Crime

Coast chef who was on Food Network won’t get jail time for $10K embezzlement

An ex-Food Network show contestant won’t be going to prison for embezzling money from Singing River Yacht Club, but a judge ordered her to pay nearly $14,000 back for her crime.

Because she had no previous criminal record, Judge Dale Harkey allowed Stacie Meehan Vande Wetering, 47, to enter into the court’s three-year pre-trial diversion program that would mean no felony record — as long as she complies with all requirements, including drug and alcohol testing.

Harkey also ordered her to pay back the $10,319 in embezzled funds, as well as other fines.

Vande Wetering, also known as “Cheffy,” competed on the Food Network’s “Guy’s Grocery Games” in March 2016, and later on “Beat Bobby Flay.”

She even spoke to the Sun Herald about the competition and her work at the Pascagoula yacht club. She had envisioned making the yacht club “a club again.”

But in 2018, a Jackson County grand jury indicted her on the felony charge of embezzling. The allegations were that she stole between $5,000 and $10,000 at different times between Jan. 27, 2017, and Sept. 27, 2017.

According to authorities, Vande Wetering had access to the cash through her position as executive chef and general manager at the Singing River Yacht Club.

No jail time

On Tuesday, Vande Wetering told the judge she agreed to all stipulations required of her to be in the pre-trial diversion program.

She admitted embezzling the money, saying she “misused funds in my capacity at SRYC.” She did not indicate what that money had been used for.

Of the $10,319 she has to pay back, $500 will go directly to the yacht club and the rest will go to its insurance carrier, Chubb Insurance Company. The judge also fined her $250, and ordered her to pay $100 to the Victim’s Compensation fund, $75 per month for 3 years to the District Attorney’s Office to cover costs of the pre-trial diversion program, as well as other court costs.

High-end jobs

A native of Montgomery, Vande Wetering began her culinary career in an apprenticeship at Perdido Beach Resort in Orange Beach, Ala.

Throughout her career, she has has worked in hotel kitchens, high-end restaurants, and a catering service.

She also worked in restaurants for two decades in Atlanta and another two years in Manhattan.

In addition, she is a past executive chef at Lakewood Club in Fairhope, Alabama, and was executive and owner of Cheffy By the Bay Catering in Daphne, Alabama.

After her time at Singing River Yacht Club, Vande Wetering went to work for a short time as executive chef at the Biloxi Yacht Club.

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