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David Harris was thrilled to be in the Winter 2018 edition of Incisal Edge Magazine with Benco’s Kay Huff and Bill Aquilino. Their article, A Thief in the Family is available here —
A woman who admitted stealing $409,000 from a Huntersville dental office she managed has been sentenced to a minimum of nearly five years in prison.
Angela Nicole Brown, 45, of Charlotte spent part of the money she stole from the practice of Dr. John Wells on vacations, including to Disney World, the Mecklenburg County District Attorney’s Office said last week.
In 2015, Wells found that Brown had written unauthorized checks to herself and taken cash from the office’s business account from February 2010 to February 2015, according to the district attorney’s office.
Wells also discovered that Brown had used the practice’s credit card to pay for her utility bills, gas fill-ups, store purchases and vacations, prosecutors said. Wells did not return calls seeking comment last week. Wells declined to comment about the case when reached by the Observer.
Brown also was ordered to pay the money back.
Content retrieved from: http://www.charlotteobserver.com/news/local/crime/article190866184.html
Deirdre M. Daly, United States Attorney for the District of Connecticut, announced that ELENA ILIZAROV, 45, of Stamford, was sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Victor A. Bolden in Bridgeport to 12 months and one day of imprisonment, followed by three years of supervised release, for using an identity theft victim’s personal identifying information to submit fraudulent bills to private insurance companies offering dental insurance.
According to court documents and statements made in court, ILIZAROV served as the office manager for Advanced Dentistry, a dental practice located in Stamford. Between 2005 and 2016, ILIZAROV billed 37 private dental insurance companies for services allegedly performed by an identity theft victim for patients of Advanced Dentistry, when the victim did not in fact perform those services. The identity theft victim was a dentist who had been affiliated with Advanced Dentistry for a short period of time and retired fully from dentistry in 2011. In total, ILIZAROV earned more than $1.2 million by billing in the name of the retired dentist.
Between 2011 and 2015, approximately $581,729 was paid by private insurance companies to Advanced Dentistry for services allegedly provided by the retired dentist. As a result, the insurance companies issued 1099 forms to the Internal Revenue Service pertaining to the retired dentist. In 2015 and 2016, ILIZAROV renewed the retired dentist’s Connecticut dental license and controlled substance registrations, paying for the renewals with her personal credit card. She also applied for, and received, liability insurance in the name of the retired dentist for several years.
ILIZAROV was arrested on a federal criminal complaint on June 21, 2016. On March 13, 2017, she pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.
Judge Bolden will issue a restitution order within 30 days.
This matter was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation, Internal Revenue Service – Criminal Investigation Division and U.S. Department of Health and Human Services – Office of Inspector General. The case was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Sarala V. Nagala and David J. Sheldon.
Elizabeth Armstrong of Fredericksburg VA will NOT be home for Christmas this year. She received a prison sentence of six years (of which five years will be suspended) and was taken directly from the courthouse to prison.
Scott Clifford, who was Prosperident’s lead investigator on the case, expressed satisfaction with this outcome. (Scott has since been promoted to Chief Fraud Examiner, in charge of all of Prosperident’s cadre of examiners). “While no dentist who was embezzled is ever happy about it, at least they can derive some satisfaction from knowing that the perpetrator got punished”, he said recently.
A dental clinic receptionist stole thousands of dollars from customers over the course of more than a year, the Volusia County Sheriff’s Office said.
Lucina Rodriguez, 52, of Deltona was arrested Friday on two counts of grand theft after 30 bank deposits totaling more than $180,000 disappeared. The money was linked to prepayments she collected from patients, sheriff’s spokesman Andrew Gant said.
When she took payments she did not give receipts or file evidence of the transaction in the patient’s medical records, according to investigators.
One patient canceled a procedure in late September and requested a $400 refund. Authorities said Rodriguez used the money to send to her family in Puerto Rico after Hurricane Maria.
Gant said investigators interviewed employees at the clinic and determined Rodriguez had been stealing cash since January 2016, making close to $15,000 deposits to personal bank accounts.
She was fired on Sept. 19, and money stopped disappearing afterward, Gant said.
Rodriguez was taken to the Volusia County Jail. Bail was set at $5,000.
Two Chicago women were indicted on charges of identity theft by a Lake County grand jury Nov. 1 in Waukegan, according to the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office and the Deerfield Police Department.
The charges against Kaya Washington, 28, and Beverly Henry, 40, both of Chicago, came after an investigation by Deerfield police that included a subpoena of Facebook records to determine the identity of one of the women, according to Deerfield Police detective Brad Tokarz.
Both Washington and Henry are charged with two counts of identity theft, one of unlawful possession of a credit card, and another of fraudulent use of a credit card, according to Cynthia Vargas, communications manager for the Lake County State’s Attorney’s office.
Washington posted $10,000 bond, and police are still looking for Henry, according Tokarz.
Tokarz said a dentist in Chicago said the two women came in on March 9 for dental work. He said Henry showed a driver’s license with her own picture, though the information was that of the victim. He said they paid for the work with a credit card in the victim’s name.
“When you sit in the dental chair at that office they take your picture,” Tokarz said. “I had two clear pictures of both individuals.”
Washington is scheduled to appear in Lake County Criminal Court Nov. 15 in Waukegan, according to the Lake County Court Clerk’s records.
Washington declined to comment, and Henry could not be reached for comment.
Editor’s note — Dr. David Phelps is Founder and CEO of the Freedom Founders Mastermind. He is an expert at assisting dentists with the diversification of their wealth outside their dental practices. We are honored to have David as a guest columnist. You can also see him interviewing our CEO, David Harris, here — http://dentistfreedomblueprint.com/ep-139-david-harris-is-your-practice-leaking-money/
Are You Replaceable? By David Phelps, D.D.S.
At first glance, that question may sound like a threat. If I’m replaceable, then what is my real value? If I’m replaceable, where’s my leverage? Who needs me?
I can hear your answer. “Me, replaceable? Heck no! I’m the owner! I do the work. I’m highly trained and have years of experience doing x, y, z. I have specific relationships with our clients or patients – it wouldn’t be possible to replace me without severe damage to the business.”
“I’ve worked hard all my life to get where I am.”
And exactly where are you?
“At the top of my game. I have a practice (job – ed.) to go to every day of the week. I can’t take time off because I am so busy doing the thing I spent so many years learning. I still have a ton of debt to pay off, and I don’t see any way off this hamster wheel. But life is good. Someday I’ll be able to enjoy it.”
Hmmm…sort of a Catch 22. The better one becomes at “doing the thing,” providing the technical labor, the less freedom there is. Trading time for dollars, no matter what the hourly pay rate, is not a path to freedom.
Being ‘replaceable’ seems contrary to everything we’ve been taught over our lifespan – that being replaceable is a bad thing. We’re told to shoot for the stars, create goals to exceed, accomplish great things, make a mark, develop a skill-set that creates high value.
But as a business owner or entrepreneur, not being replaceable is actually a problem…a huge problem!
When we focus on how well we “do” something…when we go to school many years to obtain degrees and professional licenses, when we earn accolades because of a specific skill or expertise, we are applauded. We are held as important, valuable, worthy of acknowledgement.
With such achievement, society also promises a better than average income, a lifestyle without needs, security and peace of mind…or does it?
The problem with irreplaceability becomes a trap. If you’ve built a business or professional practice that is dependent to a large degree on your physical labor and activity on a daily basis, you’ve created a job. Very possibly a well-paying job…but nonetheless, it’s a job.
Let me take this one step further – EVERYONE in your organization needs to be replaceable! A tough conversation to have, but you need to be the leader and show your vulnerability first.
Sure, you’re the boss, so you have assumed security, but, you’re no different than your employees. Your customers, clients or patients are ultimately your boss and if your team and business don’t serve, in a capitalistic society where people have choices, you and the business will suffer – you may become obsolete.
So, are you ever really secure? I say, “no.”
In 2004, my daughter Jenna underwent a life-saving liver transplant at age 12. The year-long recovery was physically and emotionally draining. I was absent from my practice about 50% of the time that year.
Was I worried that my patients might see and even prefer my associate dentist?
Was I concerned that I might not be the needed “top dog” in the practice?
No – not at all. I was grateful that in my absence my associate, staff and even our patients continued to do business…without me. No longer did everything revolve around me.
This was the most freeing moment of my life. It was no longer believed the myth that I had to “do it all.” I now had the option to change my life. So, I did.
I vowed to continue to be an absentee owner (a real business owner) and eventually sold the practice in 2010 (not without one failed sale attempt in 2007 – but that’s a conversation for another time).
Fast forward and peek inside today’s Freedom Founders Mastermind Community. At our February meeting, one of the questions or concerns from our members was, “What happens if something happens to David?” That is, what if I become in some way incapacitated?
If I am “the business” and no sustainability plans have been created, then the business might fail in my absence. I don’t want a business that is solely dependent on me – I’m all about building a legacy that will survive me.
After our mastermind meeting, our leadership team also finished our first quarter Level 10 meeting (see the book “Traction” and Entrepreneur Operating System). One of our next quarter Rocks is to deal straight up with the issue of “anti-fragility” (see the book, “Anti Fragile” by Taleb).
Our mission is to identify our company’s weaknesses, vulnerabilities and to create off-setting plan B’s or redundancies against future unknowns, uncertainties and volatility. It’s about handling to the best of our ability as many of the “what-if’s” that we can.
One of the first places we began was with our leadership team – today, there are four of us, including me. The question we put forth was, how can each one of us be replaced? If something occurred which took any one of us out of the business, either temporarily or permanently, what back-up plan is in place and how viable is it? How fragile is the company if a key team member is lost?
Most business owner/entrepreneurs are visionary…or want to be visionary.
You’ve got to be always re-inventing yourself and your business. But you can’t do that when you’re down in the trenches doing the work, providing the fulfillment each and every day.
What are the benefits of becoming “replaceable?” So far, we have only addressed the importance of being replaceable to negate the downside of one’s incapacity or loss. Are there any positives to being replaceable? Absolutely YES!
As soon as you can put away the ego and pride, this is what you will discover in becoming replaceable in your business or practice:
- Security and Peace of Mind = less stress.
- Real Freedom – being able to do what you want, when you want and with whom you want to do it.
- A more valuable company – any business with a high degree of dependency on key person is not a highly valued company. For instance, dental practices sell at no more than a 1-2 times multiple of net income. Most real businesses sell for many times that multiple. Why? It goes back to a real business vs. a self-employed job. The more irreplaceable you are because “nobody else can do what you do” provides for a great deal of self-esteem, but is a ball and chain against the path to freedom.
- Vision and Significance – the opportunity for you as the owner to work more “on” the business which will allow you to better lead your business, innovate and create legacy and significance.
So, what’s the plan for my replacement? I know a lot of people…I’m well-connected. We already have a Board of Advisors (Trusted Advisors) within Freedom Founders who play a large role. My leadership team handles all the company operations. I am already at a distance from the daily operations of the company. To replace me would require another visionary with connections to the entrepreneurial business world, professional practice and real estate.
I know and have already identified a small number of first choice people who would be willing and very capable to step in at my absence – either temporarily or in some cases, indefinitely. The right person could step in and replace me with little upset to the company and its member clients.
Each person on our leadership team has also created a replacement or succession plan for themselves, with full documentation and training – plug and play.
Instead of feeling vulnerable about replacing yourself, embrace the process! It won’t happen immediately, but if you have expressed this need to your team and they have bought in that everyone needs to be replaceable, you will find that the business will take on a new level of performance (and reduced stress).
For you as the owner? You will be able to step away from the day to day operations and experience real freedom as a true business owner – not a slave to a business as a self-employed worker.
Replaceable = Freedom
You can contact David through his website at https://www.freedomfounders.com