Florida Keys

Keys waiter helped himself to bigger tips, police say

Thomas Kerschen
Thomas Kerschen

For the amount of money police say a Florida Keys waiter made fudging the tip section on customers' credit card slips, he could have paid a bail bond company the usual 10 percent fee to bail him out of jail and still have about $100 left.

Thomas Kerschen, 26, was arrested Thursday on felony fraud charges after Monroe County Sheriff's Office detectives say he submitted 54 bogus credit card totals on customers' receipts since April while working as a waiter at Castaway Waterfront Restaurant and Sushi Bar in Marathon.

Castaway's owner, John Mirabella, called police Wednesday after a customer reported he was overcharged on his credit card.

"I looked it up and realized he was correct and immediately started doing some research and found out he wasn't the only one," Mirabella said Friday.

Kerschen, who had been working for Castaway for about two months, was fired immediately, Mirabella said.

"This all happened within a 24-hour period," MIrabella said. "This didn't sit on my plate."

According to a tally in Detective Amanda Coleman's arrest affidavit, Kerschen tipped himself almost $600 on top of legitimate gratuities from April 18 to May 23.

Some instances were more egregious than others. On May 5, a customer put down no tip — which typically means the tip was left in cash or lousy service resulted in the server getting stiffed. Police said Kerschen wrote in $45 for himself.

Coleman obtained an arrest warrant from a judge Thursday and Kerschen is in county jail on a bond of $5,000.

"Taking care of our customers is a high priority," Mirabella said. "He's no longer a problem for us."