A Coon Rapids woman who said she was addicted to gambling stole more than a half-million dollars from a Twin Cities restaurant group where she worked as a bookkeeper, according to felony charges filed against her.

Ava Marie Hamilton, 51, is charged in Hennepin County District Court with nine counts of theft by swindle over $35,000 for stealing $547,807 over three years from Theros Restaurant Group LLC, owner of Rudolph's Bar-B-Que in Minneapolis and the St. Clair Broiler in St. Paul. Charges say Hamilton, who worked as a manager at Rudolph's and later a bookkeeper for Theros, stole company money by writing herself extra paychecks from the payroll account, using checks from the operating account to pay for personal expenses such as her mortgage payment, and using a company credit card to make hundreds of cash withdrawals at local casinos. Charges say Hamilton would make cash withdrawals on the credit card, then use forged checks from company accounts and stolen cash from bank deposits to pay off the card and begin charging again.

According to charges, principal and shareholder Charlie Theros noticed the alleged theft in June 2010.

He confronted Hamilton and she allegedly admitted that she stole the money to feed a gambling addiction. She was fired six days later. Charges say Hamilton e-mailed Charlie and James Theros in August 2010 promising to reimburse the company. Police arranged an interview with her last November, but she never showed up. Hamilton was not arrested.

She is to make her first court appearance Aug. 9.