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She danced in the aisles when she used coupons to steal thousands of dollars from a Florida grocery store. Now, she’s lucky she won’t be dancing her way to prison.

19-year-old Areli Gomez of Immokalee, Florida has been convicted for her part in a coupon scam at a Winn-Dixie store where she worked. She pleaded no contest last week to a charge of fraud, and was sentenced to a year of probation and ordered to pay $3,650 in restitution.

Gomez (pictured at right above) and 19-year-old Janeva Cagle (pictured at left) were cashiers at the store when they were both arrested back in July. Store management had called police, accusing the two of scanning coupons at their registers with no customers present, and exchanging the coupons for cash.

In store surveillance video, “both women can be clearly seen scanning the coupons and removing the cash, putting the cash into their pockets,” the police incident report reads.

And they weren’t exactly subtle about their theft. “On a couple of occasions after stealing the money,” the incident report continues, “they can be seen dancing and giving each other high-fives in an apparent celebration.”

Cagle was said to have been the brains behind the scheme. She also pleaded no contest to fraud last month, was sentenced to five years probation and was ordered to pay her former employer $11,584.

Transaction records show that Cagle launched her coupons-for-cash scam in May, two months before she was caught, while Gomez didn’t get in on the action until June. So Cagle ultimately managed to pocket much more than Gomez did.

And since Cagle has so much more money to repay, she was permitted to reimburse Winn-Dixie in installments. Gomez, however, was ordered to pay her full $3,650 in restitution all at once.

So if nothing else, at least Gomez doesn’t have a large debt hanging over her head the way Cagle does. And considering they each faced a maximum sentence of five years in prison and a $5,000 fine, you could say that they got off easy.

Compared to hard time and a stiff fine, then – the more lenient punishment of probation and repaying the money they stole might be something that’s really worth dancing and high-fiving about.

Image sources: Winn-Dixie / Collier County Sheriff’s Office

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