Prosperident’s Kelly Paxton is a thought leader in the area of “pink collar crime.” She recently wrote a thought-provoking article on whether embezzlement was more damaging than street crime.
You can read Kelly’s article HERE.
WHITFIELD COUNTY, Ga. — On Monday, after a week-long trial, a jury in Whitfield County acquitted a woman who had been charged in 2012 for the theft of $112,000 in cash from a business known as Benevis, also known as Kool Smiles.
Defense Attorney McCracken Poston disputed the fact that McGill stole the cash, but did admit she didn’t deposit the $112,000 over the two-year period in question. He argued before the jury that the same amount the state claimed was stolen by McGill as a “fiduciary” of the company had been applied to an “intensive incentives program” for the office and its employees.
Poston countered that McGill was instructed by the then Chief Operating Officer of Kool Smiles, as well as her then District Manager who performed quarterly audits, to utilize the cash for what he described to the jury as “An ‘intensive incentive program’ that made the office operate at a frenetic pace to drive up the sales of Medicaid-billed services.”
Poston said of the almost constant contests, incentives and recognitions in this period of time at the Dalton office, that “the place was operating like something between a game show and a sweatshop. “
Poston said “Creature comforts were purchased and brought into the office for the benefit of the employees, including iPods, a popcorn machine, exercise equipment, visits from a masseuse. and a seemingly never-ending series of contests and prizes for the top-performing employees. or for the office as a whole, as its Medicaid sales numbers went up.” Poston said daily prizes included cash awards for employees who met and surpassed sales performance goals, and evidence was provided of the practice in the form of a receipt from a winning employee.
“This was all going gangbusters. until the United States Senate Finance Committee began to make inquiries of the practices of these dental chains, including specifically Kool Smiles, of using incentives to drive sales of Medicaid-billed services.” Poston continued, “And then an expose’ by the PBS series ‘Frontline’ was being produced.’
Poston added, “Evidence came out in the trial that the company, worried that employees would use their cell phones to become whistleblowers, went so far as to create daily incentives for locking up employee cell phones during work hours.”
Poston said that evidence was given at the trial that a box of the receipts for all of the items bought with the cash that would have proven his client’s innocence was removed from the building “without warning, and then two large men in dark suits who claimed to be from a security company hired by former Kool Smiles COO Bill Brigham showed up on February 1.”
Poston said one of the men, Robert Strickland from Strickland Security and Safèty Systems, Inc., of Atlanta, was “wearing an “NFL ring” which he spun around in McGill’s face as Strickland interrogated her with his colleague, Raymond Glaze.
Poston says McGill, who was five months pregnant at the time, was told by the men that unless she cooperated, she “would have her baby in prison and never see it again.”
McGill testified at trial that one of the men wrote out a statement for her to sign, and she signed it to get away from them. Poston says it was proven at trial that many of the things handwritten on the so-called confession we’re patently not true, but McGill ‘Was told to write it and she complied. An example of this is the written “explanation” for the crime, that her husband was laid off from work and that she had taken a pay cut to take the job. Poston said it was proven to trial that neither of these things was true, and put up expert witness Dr. Gregory DeClue, a forensic psychologist who had tested McGill and found her to be among an “extremely suggestible” personality type.
Dr. DeClue also testified about modern interrogation methods and training that ensure against false confessions, noting the lack of any recording of the contact between the men and Poston’s client.
“Strickland has claimed in multiple social media sites that he spent three years playing in the National Football League,” Poston said, ‘and so much of his work as a bodyguard involved intimidation. ” Poston added, “When I confronted him in cross-examination with the team rosters from the Philadelphia Eagles, Minnesota Vikings and New York Jets from 1983-1985, Strickland had to admit on the witness stand that he was not on them and had never played a single game in the NFL. “
Poston said that it also came out in the trial from the then Human Resources director of Kool Smiles that she had not been the one who called Strickland’s company to interrogate her employee. but that they were called in by then COO Bill Brigham.
Poston said, “All the jury had to do ‘was connect the dots on the timeline. As long as things were going well, the fact that 45 of 52 weekly deposits in a year did not make it to the bank was no problem. It was all getting poured back into the company and was ensuring high Medicaid billings. When the United States Senate inquiry turned toward Kool Smiles, Jennifer McGill went from being a company asset to its greatest liability. Sending Strickland and Glaze to coerce a false confession out of her could give the company an explanation for the absence of over $ ] 12,000.00, an excuse that would fill a large hole on the books that could have been questioned in a potential Medicaid fraud investigation.’
After the week-long trial, the jury found McGill not guilty after four hours of deliberations.
Content retrieved from https://newschannel9.com/news/local/jury-acquits-whitfield-co-woman-on-theft-charges
SUNSET HILLS • A woman who worked at a pediatric dental practice fraudulently sent refunds to credit cards she owned, stealing a total of $25,473.97, according to a charge filed Friday.
Sandra Howell, 49, stole the money between Jan. 1, 2017, and Tuesday from Pediatric Dentistry of Sunset Hills on Sunset Office Drive. Howell has now been charged in St. Louis County Circuit Court with one count of stealing $25,000 or more.
NORRISTOWN — A Bucks County woman faces several years of court supervision and a hefty restitution bill after she admitted to embezzling more than $100,000 from her employer, a Montgomery County dental office.
Michelle Zonay, 40, of the 500 block of Barrington Court, Sellersville, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to 60 months in the county’s intermediate punishment program, the first six months of which must be served under house arrest, after she pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft by unlawful taking in connection with incidents that occurred while she worked for Celebrity Smiles along Bethlehem Pike in Springfield.
While under house arrest Zonay can leave her home only for court-approved purposes such as work and medical appointments.
Zonay will serve the remainder of the 60-month sentence under intensive probation.
Judge Todd D. Eisenberg also ordered Zonay to pay $103,849 in restitution in connection with the theft.
An investigation began in November 2017 when the owner of the dental practice reported to Springfield Township police that he discovered an employee, identified as Zonay, had been stealing from the business, according to the criminal complaint.
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When you go to the dentist, you might have a number of things extracted … molars, wisdom teeth, and, of course, your dignity, when the novocaine shot makes its first appearance. However, there’s probably one thing you wouldn’t expect to see yanked out at a dental office … the lawn.
That’s right, I said the lawn. As in the thing children play on, dogs lie on and trashy people park on.
But that’s exactly what happened to one Southern California mom and pop dental office — because, you see, in Crime-afornia, not even our government-subsided plastic grass is safe from the barbarians at the gate.
Kara Sweeney, the office director and wife of the dentist, James A. Sweeney, DDS, told me that the timing of the theft came as a particular punch to the gut, because it happened at the same time that the couple were pouring their savings into renovations to improve their family business.
“Our office manager saw it and assumed that I asked him to come out [and measure the grass] as part of the renovations we were doing. Then that weekend a neighbor across the street saw three men pulling the grass up. Apparently a police officer stopped them with a pedestrian check and one of them took off into the desert. The police officer shooed them away, I guess, but they returned that evening to finish stealing the grass! I guess they already had their measurements and knew it would be the piece for their project. We reported it to the police and I am hoping the pedestrian check helps them find who did it,” Sweeney explained.
Apparently, “taking off into the desert” after being confronted by the cops didn’t raise enough red flags to prompt further questioning. But with Propositions 47, 57 and AB 109 essentially giving criminals a free pass for crimes exactly like this, I guess you can’t really blame the police. They have bigger fish to fry than chasing “John Wilkes Tooth” through the Mojave Desert over some stolen Astroturf.
I asked Sweeney if she had any evidence that might be helpful for the police. She told me, “We did have cameras and they came and stole them too. We actually watched the man climb the ladder and snip the wire … that being said we are putting better new ones in and hopefully it will deter people. It’s an older neighborhood but doesn’t seem particularly scary to me or anything like that. It’s sad. I feel like with all the effort they should just get a real job … I think they would sleep better at night.”
Hopefully they will soon get in touch with the neighbor, and she’ll give them the tooth, the whole tooth, and nothing but the tooth, so these thieves can be brought to justice.When I asked Sweeney what she plans on doing to pretty up the barren eyesore that now sits in front of her office, she said that part is still unclear. “We’re going back and forth on whether to file an insurance claim or not on the grass. We’re not even sure if it’s covered, to be honest with you. We got a quote for fixing our landscaping, not even replacing the grass because it’s so expensive, and it’s over $10,000. So that part is the part that makes me frustrated the most, of course,” she fretted.
That’s modern day California in a nutshell, for you — emboldened criminals take what they want with complete impunity, and law-abiding taxpayers get kicked in the grass.