A former manageress at an award-winning hotel has admitted cheating workmates out of £3,700 in tips.
Colleen Usher carried out the offences while working at the Rose & Crown, in Romaldkirk, County Durham.
Usher, 22, who lives in the nearby village of Middleton-in-Teesdale, admitted theft when she appeared before Bishop Auckland Magistrates Court.
The court heard how Usher, who had worked at the Rose and Crown for five years, had fallen into debt and had tried to cash 14 cheques that were not made out to her.
Police were called in after she left last year and a new member of staff discovered discrepancies.
Usher's solicitor Robert Hutchinson told the court that Usher hoped to repay the money if she gets another job.
The case was adjourned until 21 March, although the chairman of the magistrates, Naria Waller, warned Usher she could be jailed.
The hotel, which has 12 rooms and 30 staff, has won a string of awards, including Michelin Pub of the Year and Freehouse of the Year in 2006.
Chris Davy, owner of the Rose & Crown, said: "She was stealing from a staff gratuity fund, rather than the hotel itself.
"The staff here have their own gratuity fund account. She left last year and the discrepancies were discovered by a new member of staff who took over.
"It's very unfortunate that a member of staff abused the system and the trust of her colleagues. I am disappointed and very surprised at what happened."
By Nigel Green