A 50-year-old Lyons woman says she can now begin to put her life back together after being found not guilty of stealing more than $1,400 from Riverside-Brookfield High School, where she had been a longtime cafeteria worker.

Following a bench trial at the Maybrook courthouse on Oct. 17, Judge Noreen Love said there was not enough evidence to prove Patricia Reyes stole the money on different occasions between November and December 2009.

“It’s affected my life like crazy,” said Reyes. “For three years and 10 months, everything. They ruined my life. Finally the truth came out [at the trial].”

Reyes was arrested by Riverside police in January 2010 and charged with felony theft, contending that Reyes took money from customers, did not ring up the transaction, and then kept the money. At the time, Riverside Police Chief Thomas Weitzel stated that the video evidence showed “you could clearly see her pocketing money.”

But Reyes said she knew the video evidence would exonerate her and that she never pocketed any money.

“That’s why I wanted this [trial],” she said.

Reyes’ lawyer, John Callahan, said Reyes was adamant that she was innocent and had risked a felony conviction by turning down a deal from prosecutors. Callahan said he watched 40 hours of video evidence and at no time did he see her do anything wrong.

“Every hour she worked she was on video,” Callahan said. “It didn’t show a single instance of her taking any money.”

Reyes did not testify at the trial; neither did Riverside Police Lt. David Krull, who served as the detective on the case. Following her arrest, Reyes was fired from her job with Quest, she said.

With the Oct. 15 ruling, Reyes said she can finally begin to look for another job.

“I’m starting to get my life back,” Reyes said.

Weitzel said he was disappointed with the ruling.

“Obviously, I disagree,” said Weitzel. “We had a good case, but the judge felt she couldn’t convict her because there was no evidence on the video of her pocketing the money,” Weitzel said.