Former Mr. Spots manager pleads guilty to theft


A Bowling Green has pleaded guilty to stealing money from his former employer, who is a state senator.

Bruce Vermett II, 39, appeared Thursday in the courtroom of Wood County Common Pleas Judge Joel Kuhlman.

Vermett pleaded guilty to theft from a person in a protected class, a first-degree felony, and telecommunications fraud, a second-degree felony.

He must make restitution of $223,660 to Jim and Sen. Theresa Gavarone, owners of Mr. Spots, where he worked for more than two decades.

“It is gut wrenching,” said Theresa Gavarone, who attended the proceedings. “Bruce worked for us for almost 25 years, starting when he was a kid, and when you trust someone … to see that trust taken advantage of in this way, it’s been heartbreaking.”

She said the guilty plea was one step closer to resolution.

Kuhlman said the theft charge carries a possible prison sentence of up to 11 years with a maximum of 16.5 years and the fraud charge has the potential for up to eight years in prison with a maximum of 12 years.

While prison is presumed, he could impose a sentence of community control for up to five years, he said.

Prison “is certainly appropriate,” Gavarone said, “when someone is taking money from you for years.”

According to Wood County Assistant Prosecutor Dexter Phillips, from Jan. 1, 2018 to Aug. 31, 2022, Vermett deprived the Gavarones of money while Jim Gavarone was a disabled adult.

While employed as a manager, Vermett was paid a salary and was not to accept tips. However, he issued himself tip checks from the Mr. Spots account via computer requests to the company that did the restaurant’s payroll, Phillips said.

He also gave himself numerous unauthorized raises, Phillips said.

The tips and raises he issued himself amounted to $223,660, he said.

When Vermett was interviewed by detectives, he admitted to engaging in this conduct, Phillips said.

Gavarone said that her son noticed something was not right with the operations of Mr. Spots, which has been a staple in downtown Bowling Green for years.

She said they thought things were under control with checks and balances with the third-party firm doing the payroll.

On Aug. 31, 2022, the Gavarones had a conversation with Vermett, and he threatened to leave. They accepted his resignation.

“When Bruce left and we started looking into things, we noticed things right away,” she said.

Defense attorney Stevin Groth said that no employee was shorted tips through Vermett’s actions.

Sentencing was set for Oct. 5.

“I’m looking forward to having a final resolution and having this behind. It’s sad all around,” Gavarone said.

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