Embezzler’s Lawyer – Thief Would not Have Been Charged if She Stole from a Dentist Instead of the County

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Melissa K. Brennen

So this is how the rest of the world perceives the dental profession. We do not often report on embezzlement taking place outside of dentistry, but the attorney’s comments (bolded below) are noteworthy.


LISBON, OH — Melissa K. Brennen, the longtime employee of the county engineer’s office caught stealing tax map money, was sentenced to six months in prison Monday morning by county Common Pleas Court Judge Megan Bickerton.

Brennen, state Route 7, Columbiana, pleaded guilty in September to theft in office, a fourth-degree felony, after $2,940 was found to be missing from deposits made through the office between May 1 and Nov. 8 in 2019.

Assistant County Prosecutor Ryan Weikart had asked for a nine-month prison term.

Brennen’s defense attorney, Edward J. Hartwig, argued she led a law-abiding life for more than 40 years and has already been punished, not just with the loss of her job at the county engineer’s office, but also with the loss of another job after a background check was completed.

Hartwig further pointed out that if she had a similar secretarial job in any office that was not a public office, such as a dental office, she would not be charged with theft in office at all.

He provided the court with several letters supporting her and detailing Brennen’s volunteer work.

Brennen’s mother, Cheryl Brennen, told Bickerton her daughter has never been in any trouble her entire life and has been a big part of the family and a volunteer.

“I take full responsibility for my actions,” Brennen said prior to sentencing. “I apologize to anyone who I have hurt.”

But Bickerton pointed out it was not that Brennen’s conscious got the best of her and she stopped on her own, nor did it appear that she needed the money, which came from the residents of the county.

Additionally, Bickerton said there are questions about whether the thefts were actually happening prior to the dates known. According to Bickerton, there was no recommendation from the engineer’s office about the sentencing of Brennen.

Bickerton said the decision to sentence Brennen to prison was not an easy one, because she believes the people who said Brennen is a good person.

“You are a good person,” Bickerton said, “but you made a mistake.”

Brennen was ordered to pay restitution and the attorneys were both asked to file briefs about whether Brennen should be ordered to pay for the special audit which had to be conducted after the money was found missing.

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Content retrieved from: https://www.salemnews.net/news/local-news/2021/01/ex-employee-of-engineer-gets-prison-for-office-theft/

Missouri Office Manager Charged with Stealing from Dental Firm


Prosperident’s Amber Weber’s hard work paid off when she was able to help the victim in this case obtain justice for what was done to him.

CARTHAGE, Mo. — The office manager of a dental firm in Carthage stands accused of misappropriating more than $100,000 of the firm’s funds by allegedly skimming from cash receipts, overpaying herself and using the firm’s credit cards to make unauthorized purchases for herself and others.

Miranda Wolf, 43, of rural Joplin, was charged Dec. 21 in Jasper County Circuit Court with three counts of felony stealing following an investigation by Carthage police. She posted a $2,000 bond this week and was released pending a court appearance on Jan. 13.

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Miranda Wolf

A probable-cause affidavit filed with the charges alleges that Wolf stole from Cornerstone Dental in Carthage while working as office manager there from 2017 to January 2020. Her responsibilities included the handling of the firm’s payroll, cash deposits and credit card and Amazon accounts, according to the affidavit.

During her tenure at Cornerstone Dental, Wolf allegedly failed to deposit in the firm’s bank account $59,421.14 in cash that customers paid to the firm. The affidavit states that she admitted to an investigator that she had skimmed the money from the firm’s cash flow.

She also purportedly gave herself a raise in 2019 that continued into January 2020 without the knowledge or approval of the firm’s owners. The change she made to payroll added $44,823.19 to her pay in 2019 and another $2,702.32 in 2020, according to the affidavit. The self-awarded raise also resulted in increases of the firm’s contribution to her retirement fund by $1,050.12 and of FICA contributions by $3,635.70.

The unauthorized purchases of items for herself and others made with the firm’s credit cards totaled $27,765.80, according to the affidavit. She also purportedly sponsored an acquaintance’s events with funds taken from the firm’s account without the owners’ consent.

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Content retrieved from https://www.joplinglobe.com/news/crime_and_courts/office-manager-charged-with-stealing-from-carthage-dental-firm/article_67c2c49e-065c-58dd-9e44-4e1da33e898d.html