BENNINGTON >> The state has dropped felony charges filed against a New York woman earlier this month who handled money for Ponce Bistro in Manchester.
According to court records, on April 19 the Bennington County State's Attorney's Office filed a notice of dismissal regarding six felony counts of grand larceny that had been filed against Nina Rodriguez, 25, of Brooklyn, N.Y. She pleaded not guilty to the counts on April 4.
They were dismissed without prejudice. A judge has yet to approve of the dismissal notice.
Manchester attorney Daniel McManus, who represented Rodriguez, said that at one time her father, Ron Rodriguez, owned Ponce Bistro along with Amber Hamilton. The two had a falling out and Nina Rodriguez was brought in to handle the bistro's finances. During this time, he said, Hamilton was working on opening another businesses elsewhere and that his client had moved money from the bistro to her own account to have it act as a "safe harbour."
This upset Hamilton, who went to police.
McManus said that by February, Ron Rodriguez and Hamilton had settled their differences through attorneys and so it was a surprise when the charges against Nina Rodriguez went forward. McManus said that his client only used the money to pay Ponce Bistro's bills and that after he showed the state documentation of this fact, the state agreed to the dismissal.
Ron Rodriguez is now the sole owner of Ponce Bistro.
The Bennington County State's Attorney's Office did not respond to a request for comment on Tuesday.
— Contact Keith Whitcomb Jr. at 802-447-7567 Ext. 115