Oklahoma City Office Manager Charged With Embezzling $65,000

Accused Ellen Chidester

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

OKLAHOMA CITY – The former office manager of a dentist’s office on the metro’s south side allegedly stole more than $65,000 from her employer who trusted her implicitly. That’s only the amount of money investigators say they can prove.

Dr. Christian H. Pilgrim said he’s known Ellen Chidester for about 25 years. For most of that time, she was the office manager where he worked.

He said she had complete access to the company credit card and finances, as well as payroll.

“i trusted this lady so much that I never looked at the credit card statements,” Dr. Pilgrim said. “She took care of me like, basically like a mother.”

Not keeping an eye on the bank statements was a mistake he didn’t know he made until a year after she stopped working there. While his wife, Elizabeth, who started working with him, was searching for a specific receipt, they happened upon some odd charges made with the company card.

“Liz said, ‘Have you been making any purchases to Dress Barn, and Clinique?’” Dr. Piilgrim recalled, “and to that I said, ‘No I have not.’”

Further inquiry into credit card charges turned into a full-blown investigation by Elizabeth and his staff, scrutinizing all of the charges allegedly made by Chidester.

“There were so many,” Ms. Pilgrim said, “and so few actual business expenses.”

For three months, they searched through credit card statements, called stores to retrieve receipts, and sat on the phone with Amazon.com for hours working to find all the fraudulent charges.

“Everyday I would come in and my stomach would hurt because everyday they would come in and say ‘Dr. Pilgrim, guess what we found. Guess what we found today. Did you know what you paid for today?’” Dr. Pilgrim said.

They said they found Chidester used the card to buy all sorts of things, from Disney World tickets, to gifts for her family, lotions, clothes, movies, that she used it to pay for the electric bill for her Shawnee Lake house, and for a family member’s wedding.

“Every year they would buy me a Christmas gift,” Dr. Pilgrim said, “and little did I know that I was actually paying for it on the company card.”

They could only access credit card statements from seven years back, and they left out any suspicious charges that they couldn’t obtain receipts for to prove she had spent the money personally.

“We couldn’t even get a hold of the Walgreens receipts but there were thousands of dollars every December from Walgreens,” said receptionist Jordan Patterson.

Ms. Pilgrim also found that Chidester was allegedly overpaying herself in payroll.

According to court documents, she allegedly spent about $47,870 in personal charges on the company card, and overpaid herself $18,000, $65,870 altogether.

News 4 tried to reach Chidester at her home for comment but no one came to the door.

She is charged with with two counts of felony embezzlement and has pleaded not guilty.

“I would like to have my money back and I think the people need to know exactly what she’s done,” Dr. Pilgrim said. “I think she portrays herself as something she’s not.”

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Content retrieved from https://kfor.com/2019/03/26/metro-dental-employee-accused-of-stealing-thousands-from-her-trusting-employer/

Embezzlement News #81 April 2019

Dental Embezzlement News from Prosperident
Issue #81 — April 2019
Podcast
Our CEO recently had the honor of being a guest on the podcast of dental attorney Stephen Kaufman. Check it out HERE.
Liven Up Your Meeting
Did you know that there are some topics that we will ONLY discuss at closed-door, live events?
This is Caren Irsuto, who was recently charged with embezzling $600k from a practice.
See us live if you want the full story on embezzlement.
Here are some places where we will be speaking soon:
Mar 27Practice CFO clients, San Diego CA
Mar 27District of Columbia AGD, Washington DC
Apr 12American Association of Endodontists, Montreal QC
Apr 13New Dentist BOOST Study Club, Philadelphia PA
Apr 26Maryland State Dental Association, Columbia MD
Apr 26Star of the North Meeting, St. Paul MN
May 3
American Association of Orthodontists, Los Angeles CA
May 4Richardson Group, Seattle WA
May 7Seattle Study Club, Atlanta GA
May 8North County Women’s Study Club, Carlsbad CA
May 9Patterson Dental, Portland ME
May 10Patriot Dental Conference, Foxborough MA
May 15Patterson Dental Totowa NJ
Jul 8University of the West Indies
Sep 13Orthopreneurs Summit, Dallas TX
Sep 19Dr. Brad Crump, Dallas TX
Sep 21Dallas Dental Symposium, Dallas TX
Oct 7Colorado Prosthodontic Society, Denver CO
Nov 11Thunderbird Study Club, El Paso TX
Nov 19Memphis Dental Society, Memphis TN
To book us for your meeting or study club, click HERE or call us at 888-398-2327.
Did you miss a previous newsletter? We archive them HERE.

Investigator of the Month — Pat Little, DDS FAGD CFE
Did you know that 30% of our investigators used to be dentists?
Dr. Pat Little is a great example of a dentist-investigator. Pat owned several dental practices before repetitive motion issues made dentistry difficult. He returned to college to study accounting, and found us through mutual friend Linda Miles.
Pat is both a skilled investigator and an accomplished speaker. We are glad to have him on our team. You can read more about Pat HERE.

Something to Talk About…
Are You Aware?
The question sounds a little New Age, but in our era of perpetual sensory assault and overload, asking about awareness is not as “out there” as you may think.
We live in a time of rapid technological progress and nothing we do or have seems to be immune from progress’s path. We rely on so many smart devices and their plentiful apps that it seems archaic to ask someone to stop what they’re doing, take a deep breath, and quietly ask the question; “what is really going on here?”
For decades now my team and I have had the pleasure of working with and for the dental community. As the years fly by it seems that no matter how many technological advances come along to make practices run smoother and more securely, we never stop hearing dentists say; “I just knew that something didn’t feel right, but with all of the changes in my practice between team members coming and going, and software constantly updating, I just chalked my feelings up to change.”
Listening and responding to your gut feeling when you think something terrible or inappropriate might be happening is instinct, and here’s the kicker – there is NO APP FOR THAT!
If you become aware that you need or want professional assistance to quell your gut feelings and regain your peace of mind about the financial well-being of your practice, we’d love to talk with you. There is never a fee for chatting with us, and we are always happy to help.
David Harris
CEO
We are Prosperident, Dentistry’s Embezzlement Experts

Embezzlement In Dentistry Is Not a Recent Phenomenon — This One From 1857

A new headstone marks the burial place of Emma Cunningham, acquitted of killing her lover.

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

Back in 1857, they were the hottest names in old New-York. Harvey Burdell and Emma Cunningham — the violent, rapacious and brutally murdered society dentist and his scheming and probably murderous mistress, mutual antagonists in the most lurid true-crime drama of the age.

For well over a century, the pair, essentially disowned by their families, lay interred in unmarked graves a few hundred yards from each other in Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn, their whereabouts known only to a few history buffs.

No longer. Yesterday, before a rapt if small audience of retrospective voyeurs, two sparkling granite headstones were unveiled: Harvey Burdell, 1811-1857. And Emma Augusta Hempstead Cunningham, 1818-1887. “May God rest her troubled soul,” reads the inscription.

The stones — and Mrs. Cunningham’s epitaph — are the doing of an amateur historian sufficiently obsessed with the case to spend the last seven years writing a book about it.

The man, Benjamin Feldman, a retired lawyer, real estate developer and Yiddishist, insisted that no endorsement of the couple’s evil ways was implied.

“It’s not a question of honoring them,” Mr. Feldman, a thin, ponytailed man with the bearing of a merry undertaker, said after the graveside service, news of which was published yesterday by AM New York. “It’s a question of what in Hebrew is called ‘t’chiyat ha-metim’ — raising the dead. You enlarge all of us when you bring these stories back to life.”

And what a story. In their ever-spiraling battle of bad faith and faithlessness, the two lovers managed to embody many of the ills of the age: the rampant vice and political corruption, the straitened economic and sexual circumstances of women and the destabilizing influence of new wealth on traditional social structures.

The tale, as lovingly told by Mr. Feldman in his book, “Butchery on Bond Street,” boils down to this: Harvey Burdell was a dentist of humble background who built a thriving practice in his four-story town house at 31 Bond Street, midway between the vice dens of the Bowery and the glitzier honky-tonk of lower Broadway. In his spare time, Dr. Burdell, who was divorced, enjoyed gambling, sexual predation and real estate swindling.

Emma Cunningham was a young widow with five children and was desperately seeking a man who could support her and her brood in the manner to which she had grown accustomed. She had been married to a distiller who had squandered most of his family’s fortune.

A tombstone at Green-Wood Cemetery in Brooklyn was unveiled Tuesday for Harvey Burdell, a dentist who was killed in 1857. Credit Christian Hansen for The New York Times

No one alive knows precisely how Emma met Harvey, but once they got together, in or around 1854, things got pretty intense. They returned from a whirlwind trip to Saratoga Springs, N.Y., with Mrs. Cunningham pregnant. She wanted to keep the baby. He did not. She had an abortion, possibly performed by him.

Nothing if not persistent, Mrs. Cunningham insinuated herself into the dentist’s household as the landlady of the rooming house he ran out of his building. They continued their dalliance. She claimed he raped her twice, according to court papers.

“It was not a comfortable relationship,” Mr. Feldman observed.

Mrs. Cunningham tried everything to get Dr. Burdell to agree to tie the knot. She had him arrested for breach of promise to marry. In secret, she did marry a man who told the minister he was Harvey Burdell, but who was almost undoubtedly an impostor.

Three months after the ceremony, on Jan. 31, 1857, Dr. Burdell was found dead in his dental clinic. More precisely, according to The New-York Daily Times, “the body was lying upon the floor, shockingly mutilated, and surrounded with clots of blood, and the door and walls of the room besmeared with blood.”

Not to be outdone, The New York Herald described 6 of the 15 stab wounds. “Twice the steel had pierced the heart, twice the lungs had been reached with the deadly point of the stiletto, while the jugular vein and the carotid artery were both severed,” it said, according to Mr. Feldman’s book.

Then the case really took off. The coroner’s inquest was held in Dr. Burdell’s office, with witnesses testifying in the chair where his patients had recently sat. A recommendation that one of the dead man’s eyeballs be excised and his retina examined for traces of what, or whom, he saw in his dying moments was proposed and discarded. Mrs. Cunningham threw herself on the open coffin and cried, “Oh, I wish to God you could speak and tell who done it.”

More than 8,000 people tried to cram into Grace Church on Broadway at 10th Street for his funeral. Soon after, she was charged with the murder. There being no witnesses, and her lawyer arguing successfully that a member of the weaker sex afflicted with rheumatism was incapable of such a brutal attack, she was acquitted. (Mr. Feldman said he believed that Mrs. Cunningham had a prominent role in the murder even if she did not commit it herself.)

Set free, Mrs. Cunningham tackled her next mission: obtaining Dr. Burdell’s estate, estimated at $80,000. But her claim to be carrying his child was proven false when she was caught taking delivery of another woman’s baby to call her own. And her insistence that she had married Dr. Burdell similarly unraveled in the face of testimony that another paramour had been seen buying a toupee and false whiskers the day of the wedding in order to resemble Dr. Burdell.

Emma Cunningham died a pauper at the age of 69. Harvey Burdell’s murder was never solved. Both were eventually forgotten, until Jeffrey I. Richman, the historian of Green-Wood Cemetery, read an account of the case and included it in a book about the cemetery. Mr. Feldman bought the book in 2000, and a fixation was born. Mr. Feldman and the cemetery split the $6,500 cost of the grave markers.

Yesterday, as a large spider crept across Emma Cunningham’s tombstone in the crisp sunlight, Mr. Feldman recalled his excitement when he first read the twisted tale of Harvey Burdell and Emma Cunningham.

“The interplay between them,” he said, “is one of the most hideous, dysfunctional, psychopathic couplings between man and woman that I’ve ever read. I knew I had to see their graves appropriately marked.”

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Content retrieved from https://www.nytimes.com/2007/09/19/nyregion/19headstones.html

California Dental Assistant Sentenced For Role In Mortgage Fraud Scheme

Joker

SACRAMENTO, Calif. — Three Northern California residents were sentenced today by U.S. District Judge Garland E. Burrell Jr. for crimes relating to their involvement in a mortgage fraud scheme, U.S. Attorney McGregor W. Scott announced.

Surjit Singh, 72, of Dublin, was sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison, his son, Rajeshwar Singh, 44, of Pleasanton, was sentenced to 11 years and three months in prison on four counts of mail fraud, four counts of bank fraud, and four counts of false statements on loan and credit applications. Anita Sharma, 56, of Gilroy, was sentenced to three years and 10 months in prison on two counts of mail fraud, two counts of bank fraud, and two counts of false statements on loan and credit applications. Surjit Singh was ordered to pay a $2 million fine, $698,787 in restitution, and $847,000 in forfeiture. Raj Singh was ordered to pay a $1 million fine, $928,287 in restitution, and $838,399 in forfeiture. Anita Sharma was ordered to pay $603,180 in restitution and $30,000 in forfeiture.

According to court documents, in 2006 and 2007, Surjit Singh recruited individuals with good credit to act as straw buyers for residential properties owned by his family members and associates. Rajeshwar Singh, a licensed real estate agent, assisted in the scheme by submitting loan applications for the straw buyers. Anita Sharma, a dental assistant at the time, was one of the straw buyers. Because Sharma and the other straw buyers could not afford the homes based on their true incomes, the Singhs submitted fraudulent loan applications and supporting material to lending institutions that included false statements about the straw buyers’ income, employment, liabilities, and intent to occupy the homes as their primary residences.

At least 14 properties were involved in the scheme. Anita Sharma alone purchased five homes in San Jose, San Ramon, Elk Grove, Sacramento, and Modesto. Other straw buyers purchased or refinanced properties in Stockton, Modesto, Patterson, Lathrop and Tracy. All of these homes were ultimately either foreclosed upon or sold in a short sale where the bank lets homeowners sell their homes for less than is owed on the mortgage.

Sharma was paid for her involvement in the scheme. Rajeshwar Singh received financial benefits through broker commissions for the transactions and as the seller of seven of the properties. He also continued to occupy the San Ramon property at a time when Anita Sharma should have been living there. Surjit Singh benefitted through payments out of escrow directed to shell companies, such as SJR Investments and BK Investments, which were associated with his daughter and significant other, whose initials are SJR and BK respectively. These payments were purportedly for contracting services, which did not occur. He also benefitted through rental payments made to him and his significant other by the renters of the homes, as the straw buyers were not living in the homes. In addition, many of his family members received money by selling properties and had money directed to them out of escrow. According to court documents and evidence produced at trial, the defendants were responsible for the origination of more than $9.3 million in fraudulently procured residential mortgage loans.

Surjit Singh is in custody.  Rajeshwar Singh and Anita Sharma are scheduled to self‑surrender on January 9, 2019.


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Content retrieved from https://www.justice.gov/usao-edca/pr/three-sentenced-mortgage-fraud-scheme-involving-14-properties-elk-grove-sacramento

A Different Kind Of Embezzlement — DSO Executive Accused Of Stealing Trade Secrets

Nathan Cox

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

Earlier this month, a Nashville, Tennessee company filed a federal lawsuit against its former employee alleging trade secrets misappropriation under the Defend Trade Secrets Act, among other claims.  The plaintiff, Marquee Dental Partners, LLC, operates dental offices in Tennessee, Alabama, and Kentucky.  Marquee purchases existing dental practices and provides administrative services to those practices allowing the doctors and support staff to focus on clinic services and patient care.  In a particularly strongly-worded introductory sentence, the complaint reads: “This case shows what it means to be a faithless corporate executive.” 

According to Marquee, that corporate executive, defendant Nathan Cox, was hired in early January 2016 as the Vice President of Business Development.  Mr. Cox was tasked with helping Marquee grow its network.  Specifically, Mr. Cox’s duties included developing contacts with practices that met certain financial, geographic, and practice-type criteria, cultivating relationships with potential future network members, and gauging their interest in joining Marquee’s network.  Instead of fulfilling his duties, Marquee alleges that Mr. Cox “concealed the confidential and proprietary information Marquee paid him to collect, develop, and maintain for its exclusive use; provided information instead to multiple Marquee competitors—while still employed by Marquee—in an effort to land a higher paying job; and deleted nearly all of his [8,200 emails] on his way out the door.”  Marquee claims Mr. Cox abruptly left the country shortly thereafter.

Marquee recovered Mr. Cox’s deleted emails and allegedly found that, despite his obligations, he withheld acquisition pipeline information from Marquee.  For example, Marquee alleges that one list of potential leads that Mr. Cox sent Marquee included twelve fewer leads than he alluded to in emails to Marquee’s competitors.

Marquee brought its claims under the DTSA which was signed into law effective May 11, 2016.  In order to prevail in their DTSA claim, Marquee will first need to establish that the information Mr. Cox collected were Marquee’s trade secrets.  Then, Marquee will need to establish that Mr. Cox’s activities amounted to the unauthorized disclosure of Marquee’s trade secrets.  Though these elements are familiar under state laws, with less than two years on the books, how the DTSA will be used by Plaintiffs and applied by courts is still to be determined.  If you’re a regular reader, you know we have been keeping our eye out for developments with respect to the DTSA and will continue to do so.

In the meantime, a key lesson can already be gleaned from this case: Trade secret owners must be vigilant.  Even trusted executives can misappropriate.


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Content retrieved from https://blogs.orrick.com/trade-secrets-watch/2017/12/29/worse-than-a-toothache-dental-executive-alleged-to-have-misappropriated-proprietary-business-leads/

Misrepresentation When Selling Practice Results In Punitive Damages

Successful plaintiff Dr. Anne Fabricus

Did you know that Prosperident often provides support to attorneys who are involved in litigation matters for dentists? You can read about our litigation support services here

Here is an example of such a case:


A Cook County jury has awarded more than $500,000 to an Oak Park dentist who bought another dentist’s practice, then later learned that dentist defrauded patients and their insurance companies and inflated his revenue.

Plaintiffs Dr. Anne M. Fabricius and Oak Park Prosthodontics Ltd. sued Dr. Lawrence P. Smith, Corinne A. Smith and Distinctive Dental Services Ltd. in August 2014, alleging Lawrence Smith provided false and fraudulent patient information and financial records to Fabricius when she was interested in purchasing his dental practice.

The verdict, which was reached Friday after a trial before Cook County Associate Judge James E. Snyder, comprised $187,693 in compensatory damages, $309,051 in punitive damages and $90,186 in interest.

The verdict totaled $586,930.

Originally filed in the court’s Chancery Division, the case was transferred for trial to the Law Division in May.

Jurors found that Smith overstated his revenue to make his practice seem like more of a specialty operation than it actually was.

In her amended complaint filed in June 2015, Fabricius claimed she overpaid for Lawrence Smith’s practice because the purchase price was based on overstated revenues.

After obtaining a $775,000 loan, she took over the office and realized after meeting with her new patients that Smith would perform a simple procedure on a patient but bill as if it was a complex one.

Lawrence Smith countersued Fabricius and Oak Park Prosthodontics Ltd., claiming defamation and wrongful termination, both of which were voluntarily dismissed by Smith before trial.

Fabricius was represented by Duane Morris LLP partners John T. Schriver and Neville M. Bilimoria.

Schriver said the practice initially appealed to his client because the office was advertised as a high-end operation.

“She took over the practice and, for the first time, was able to look in patients’ mouths to see what he had actually done,” Schriver said.

She also said she would not have borrowed $775,000 from Bank of America to purchase Smith’s dental practice or entered into the lease in August 2013 had she been given accurate financial and patient information.

Schriver said his client feels vindicated after the three-year legal battle.

Carmen D. Caruso, a partner with the Carmen D. Caruso Law Firm, represented the defendants.

He said while he appreciated the jurors’ service, he was disappointed with their verdict.

“We are reviewing Dr. Smith’s next steps,” Caruso said.

Oak Park Prosthodontics, Ltd., et al., v. Lawrence P. Smith, DDS, et al., 14 CH 1259

Content retrieved from https://www.chicagolawbulletin.com/archives/2017/09/26/500k-dentist-fraud-9-26-17

Trust, Then Verify; Systems That Win

The following is an excerpt from David Harris’ upcoming book on protecting yourself from embezzlement. Stay tuned for the book release.

By now you know that embezzlement will eventually strike the majority of practicing dentists, and that amounts stolen can be significant.

There are a couple of things about this crime that surprises most of the dentists with whom I speak. First, when I bring up this topic with a dentist, typically what is in his or her mind is the theft of cash. And while employees who embezzle are thrilled to steal $20 bills, the amount that most practices receive in cash is small and decreasing. For most embezzlers to be able to steal the amounts that they think they should, many will evolve beyond stealing cash into targeting other forms of wealth transfer.

Cashing checks payable to you or the practice, hijacking credit card payments made to the practice, and intercepting direct deposits from insurance companies are all possibilities, and within the grasp of most thieves. The increasing level of automation in the banking system, and other technological innovations like e-deposits and devices that allow a smartphone to accept credit card payments, all play squarely into the hands of embezzlers.

The second area of surprise for most dentists is the interactive nature of this crime, and the ability of embezzlers to evaluate the systems in place in a particular office and to determine how to overcome or bypass those systems.

Many dentists start with an oversimplified view of embezzlement. They believe, and this belief has been reinforced by some of the dental literature, that blocking specific methodologies of embezzlement is the key to protecting yourself. So, for example, the practice owner should make bank deposits personally because doing so will thwart a would-be thief from stealing money from the deposit.

Someone in this situation who wants to steal will adapt, and the most common adaptation would be to find a way to have the practice management software underreport the amount received by the practice. Many practice owners believe that what is reported by their practice management software must be accurate, and this is not necessarily true.

There are lots of potential options for an embezzler; over the years I have seen hundreds of different methodologies employed, and ultimately this is what dooms the “denial of opportunity” strategies – embezzlers have too many possibilities for you ever to block them all.

So if the options available to a thief exceed your ability to block them, is this problem hopeless? Not at all; we need to shift our focus from blocking specific embezzlement methodologies to something more broad-minded.

Embezzlement consists of two elements – the act of stealing, which happens quickly and at the time and place chosen by the thief, and the act of concealment. Because of its fleeting nature, stealing is rarely observed by a dentist. However, concealment tends to be permanent, and therefore far easier to find.

The other “observable” is the behavior of a thief. In a study done by the American Dental Association, embezzlement victims were surveyed to determine what led them to realize that they were being stolen from. More than two-thirds of the victims who were surveyed said that some element of the thief’s behavior was the cause of their awakening.

The following series of steps are designed to maximize your chances of finding concealments and the behavioral indicia of embezzlement.

  1. The daily and monthly reports from your practice management software that you review should be ones that you have printed yourself. Allowing a staff member to generate reports for you created the possibility of “selective reporting, where you are looking at a subset of the practice’s transactions while believing that you are seeing the whole practice. Once you have reviewed a report, put your initials on it to confirm that it is the one you saw, and store it under lock and key for at least a year.
  2. The day-end reports from your software need to total accurately to the month-end report. Checking that these reports agree will allow you to detect if someone is processing payments on a day when the office is closed.
  3. Every month, review the “deleted transactions” report and the “modified transactions” report, which may have slightly different names depending on the practice management software that you use. Deleted and modified transactions deserve particular scrutiny for irregularities.
  4. Have all statements that you receive by mail such as your bank statement, credit card statements for office credit cards, merchant terminal statement (from the machine in the office that accepts credits card payments) sent to your home instead of your office. Let’s ensure that you see these first, and create a level of mystery about what you do with them.
  5. Review the Accounts Receivable report, and when printing it, ask your software to print a report without credit balances. Sometimes embezzlers use “phantom” credit balances to conceal some balances owing by patients that represent amounts that the patients have actually paid, and a thief has pocketed.
  6. On a monthly basis, reconcile the following to the totals in your practice management software:
    a. Bank account deposits including both those made by the practice and automatic payments from credit card companies.
    b. Credit card payments received
    c. Amounts placed with third-party financing and amounts paid to the practice from third-party financing
    If doing these reconciliations isn’t something you enjoy or are good at, it is permissible to outsource them to an external bookkeeper or an accounting firm. These reconciliations should never be done by someone working in the office or with access to your practice management software.
  7. Ensure that every staff member takes vacation each year, and ensure that the majority of it is taken together. Every staff member needs to be away from the practice for at least two consecutive weeks each year. If someone is embezzling, making them leave the practice for long enough that someone else has to cover for them provides one of the best opportunities for you to catch them.
  8. Where possible, divide up front desk duties so that the same person does not receive payments, record them in your practice management software and deposit them.
  9. Have a written anti-fraud policy that clearly spells out what is fraudulent conduct.
  10. Insist on cross-training of staff so that there is someone who can provide backup for every function performed by your front desk.

These ten steps will not take a lot of your time, but will dramatically increase your chances of spotting embezzlement in your practice quickly.

Towamencin PA Dental Office Worker Charged With Giving Unauthorized Discounts

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

NORRISTOWN — A former patient care coordinator for a Towamencin dental practice likely isn’t smiling as she fights charges she allegedly gave unauthorized dental discounts to a boyfriend and other customers.

Michele K. Olinger, 49, of the 100 block of Susquehanna Avenue, Lansdale, who is accused of bilking nearly $13,000 from North Penn Dental Arts between 2001 and 2011, filed papers in Montgomery County Court asking that theft-related charges be dismissed against her on the grounds that prosecutors failed to present sufficient evidence during a March preliminary hearing and that the charges were filed in violation of the statute of limitations for the alleged crimes.

“The commonwealth failed to present any evidence whatsoever that the defen- dant acted with an intent to deceive or to defraud,” defense lawyer Judith L. Watts wrote in court papers filed on Wednesday.

Watts also argued that prosecutors failed to present any evidence that Olinger lacked authority to use the company’s computer system or exceeded the authority given to her use of the computer system.

Watts claimed the statute of limitations for the alleged crimes expired between 2006 and 2009 and therefore the charges should be dismissed.

Because information contained within the computer records of North Penn Dental Arts form the basis for the charges against Olinger, Watts has asked a judge to order the business to preserve its computer system “and to make said system available for inspection by a third party computer company to be hired by defendant.”

Prosecutor Erik Crocker will have the chance to address Olinger’s requests when a judge schedules a pretrial hearing on the matter. A hearing date has not yet been scheduled.

In the meantime, Olinger remains free on $10,000 unsecured bail while she awaits trial on charges of theft of services, theft by deception, forgery, tampering with records, computer trespass and unlawful use of a computer. If she’s convicted of all the charges at trial, Olinger faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 to 40 years in prison.

Olinger has pleaded not guilty to the charges.

An investigation of Olinger began in September 2011 when the co-owner and managing director of the dental business located in the 1500 block of Sumneytown Pike reported the alleged thefts that occurred between March 2001 and June 2011. Olinger began her employment with the company in June 2000, court papers indicate.

The business, detectives alleged, had a policy that stated that only spouses and dependent children of employees were provided a 50 percent discount. All other discounts were to be approved by a company co-owner, detectives alleged.

Between March 2001 and June 2011, Olinger “would provide unauthorized discounts to patients” that defrauded the business of $12,922, according to the arrest affidavit. According to patient billing records, “these discounts were given to Olinger’s boyfriend and family members of the boyfriend or Michele Olinger,” Wittenberger alleged in the criminal complaint.

The discounts were not authorized by the co-owners of the business, detectives alleged.

“Olinger would employ different methods of accounting for the discounts. One method was applying the discount directly to the patient’s account, without authorization,” Wittenberger alleged. “Another method was to transfer the patient’s balance to Olinger’s account and then applying the discount.”


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Content retrieved from The Mercury (Pottstown, PA)11 May 2012By Carl Hessler Jr. chessler@journalregister.com

Illinois Woman Pleads Guilty To Embezzling $600k From Practice. Husband Convicted Also.

Caren Irsuto

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

Update December 2019:

Caren Irsuto, 56, of Schiller Park, was sentenced to six years in prison in exchange for her guilty plea to aggravated identity theft and theft. Her husband, Scott Irsuto, 59, also of Schiller Park, was sentenced to 24 months probation in exchange for pleading guilty to theft.


Original post:

A woman who worked as a receptionist and bookkeeper for an Arlington Heights dentist was charged with aggravated identity theft, financial fraud and theft for, authorities allege, stealing more than $600,000 from her employer over about six years beginning in 2009.

Charged along with Caren Irsuto, 56, was her husband Scott Irsuto, 58, who faces theft and financial fraud charges.

In setting Caren Irsuto’s bond at $600,000, Cook County Judge Marc Martin seemingly referenced the money authorities say she stole. Martin ordered Scott Irsuto held on $28,000 cash bail, the loss authorities attributed to him. Each must post the entire amount to be released from custody.

Caren Irsuto’s actions “had a devastating impact on the dental practice,” said Assistant Cook County State’s Attorney Karen Crothers, who described the dentist as a solo practitioner who noticed the theft in early 2016 after “an increase in business without a corresponding increase in revenue.”

He brought in a consultant and relieved Caren Irsuto of her duties, Crothers said.

On a subsequent Sunday when the office was closed, the dentist and his wife drove by the office and saw Caren and Scott Irsuto in the parking lot, Crothers said. When the dentist called Irsuto to ask why, she denied being there, Crothers said. The dentist never saw her again.

Meanwhile, an internal review showed “inconsistencies between accounts received and insurance reports,” Crothers said. The dentist eventually discovered Caren Irsuto failed to deposit 1,464 checks totaling $625,526.23, she said.

The checks, made out to the dental practice, came from 98 different insurers and dozens of patients, Crothers said. Each bore the endorsement of the dentist, who told authorities he did not sign any of the checks.

The defendants cashed the checks at currency exchanges, a gas station and a local bar or deposited them in a bank account, Crothers said, adding “it is believed the money ws used for a variety of things.”

Scott Irsuto next appears in court on March 27. Caren Irsuto appears in court on March 29.


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