Grain ‘N’ Grape robbery: Clerk gets five months in jail

ESCANABA – The store clerk who allowed her friend to take money from the cash register at the Grain ‘N’ Grape nearly a year ago was sentenced to five months in jail. The ruling was handed down in Delta County Circuit Court Wednesday.

Annaelise Marie Ambrose, 23, of Escanaba, assisted in a larceny at the convenience store, located at 6998 U.S.2/41 and M-35, on Aug. 1, 2012. While working there, she opened the till and allowed Abby Beth Johnson, 21, of Escanaba, to steal cash. After waiting a few minutes, Ambrose activated the store’s silent alarm alerting police of a robbery.

Ambrose, who knew of Johnson’s plans ahead of time, told police she was robbed at gunpoint by a masked man who demanded money and then fled the store with cash, liquor and cigarettes.

Ambrose was charged with one count of attempted larceny in a building and one count of lying to a police officer investigating a larceny. She was sentenced to two concurrent sentences of five months in jail and given credit for five days served.

The victim, the store owner, gave a statement to the court about how she thought she was helping Ambrose by allowing her to work at the Grain ‘N’ Grape. Ambrose disappointed the store owners and manager as well as herself, said the victim.

Defense Attorney Don LeMire said his client tried to convince Johnson and a friend not to do the crime when they were talking about robbing the business. When Johnson came into the store, she had a gun on her; Ambrose did not know it was an Airsoft pistol, said LeMire.

Ambrose told the court, “I just want to repeat how very sorry I am for this to happen.”

Judge Stephen Davis said Ambrose was not a victim here but a victimizer because she was involved in the crime as well as its coverup.

In addition to the jail sentence, Ambrose was ordered to pay $596 in fines and costs. She will also pay $6,042 in joint restitution with two co-defendants. She was placed on probation for 18 months. She is to have no contact with the victims or co-defendants.

Johnson was sentenced in May to serve a year in the county jail for her role in the conspiracy to commit larceny at the store. She was fined $1,854 and joint restitution.

The third co-defendant in the case – Cory Michael Vanderlinden, 26, of Gladstone – admitted he helped his friends hide the stolen items and then lied to officers. He was sentenced July 2 to 106 days in jail and given credit for 106 days already served for lying to police. He was fined $598 and joint restitution.

The three were arrested on Feb. 7 after the Delta County Sheriff’s Department received a tip through the Crimestoppers website revealing the “inside job.”