Idaho Patient Charged With Stealing Relative’s Identity To Get Dental Work

Editor’s note — this is why your office’s practice should be to check identification on every new patient.

IDAHO FALLS — Deputies say an Idaho Falls woman stole a family member’s identity and racked up several thousand dollars in medical debt.

On Aug. 18, the Bonneville County Sheriff’s office received a call from a woman who had been served papers saying she had been sent to a debt collector due to unpaid dental bills, according to an affidavit of probable cause obtained by The woman told deputies she suspected that her relative, 50-year-old Toni Jo Lepper, stole her identity to apply for credit at a dentist’s office.

The victim reported that the dentist’s office would not say who applied for over $3,000 in credit in her name back in 2016. While speaking with deputies, the victim said the dentist’s office admitted to never seeing her or having the victim as a patient.

The family member said Lepper has a history of taking family members’ money and stealing their identity to open credit cards. The relative also told investigators that in 2016, Lepper drained her bank account when she stole her identity.

Detectives spoke with Lepper on Sept. 4 about the alleged opening of the account.

“She stated, ‘I needed teeth,’” a detective wrote in the probable cause. “She later explained it was for dentures.”

Lepper explained to detectives she added her family member to the account without permission because the dentist would not give her credit herself. She also told investigators she knew it was wrong but things “got out of control,” according to court documents.

The reported $3,000 bill was sent to a former address of Lepper’s and never paid. It is unknown if the relative ever got a bill or even knew about the account until this summer.

A warrant was issued for Lepper’s arrest and she was charged with felony grand theft by larceny, embezzlement, extortion or by receiving stolen goods. Law enforcement arrested Lepper on Friday then booked and released her from the Bonneville County Jail.

A preliminary hearing is scheduled for Nov. 13 at the Bonneville County Courthouse. If convicted of the felony charge, a judge could order Lepper to spend up to 14 years in prison and pay a $5,000 fine.

While Lepper is charged with a crime, it does not automatically mean she committed the crime. Everyone is presumed innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.

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MN Woman Admits To Stealing >$100k

A 61-year-old Backus woman accused of embezzling over $100,000 from a Pine River dental office said she did it to support her gambling and shopping habits, according to court documents.

Sandra Jean Kelley was criminally charged Sept. 25 and summoned to appear in Cass County District Court on felony theft charges of diverting funds from Pine River Dental Arts.

Kelley’s first court appearance is scheduled at 2 p.m. Nov. 18 in a Walker courtroom in front of Judge Jana M. Austad.

According to the criminal complaint filed against Kelley, a Cass County sheriff investigator spoke June 26 with the CEO of Pine River Dental Arts. The CEO discovered discrepancies leading her to believe Kelley, the former office manager, mishandled company funds. When Kelley was employed, she was the only employee who oversaw the office financial duties, including payroll and accounts receivable.

The investigator spoke with Kelley, who admitted she stole from her former employer, that it had been going on since 2013 and she did it to support her gambling and shopping habits. Kelley stated she paid her personal credit card with company funds.

The CEO claimed Kelley took extra hours through payroll and she took cash from the company account for personal use. The CEO reported that during the COVID-19 pandemic office shutdown, she began to examine the business’ records and discovered that between Oct. 9, 2017, and March 31, 2020, Kelley used the corporate checking account to pay $84,633.08 off her personal credit card, the complaint stated. She also discovered Kelley paid for her personal cell phone bill with a corporate credit card on March 30, 2020, in the amount of $852.24.

The CEO reviewed the payroll records and compared them with office records and discovered that between Sept. 24, 2015, and March 9, 2020, Kelley overpaid herself $44,587.65, the complaint stated. The CEO said after comparing business records with cash deposits at the bank, that between Sept. 24, 2015, and March 31, 2020, Kelley took over $80,878.16 in cash.

The complaint further stated Kelley’s daughter-in-law also worked for the business from 2013 through 2019 as a patient coordinator. The CEO reported records showed Kelley overpaid her daughter-in-law as an employee by $27,908.91 between Sept. 24, 2015, and Sept. 5, 2019. Kelley asserted her daughter-in-law was completely unaware that she modified her payroll. The daughter-in-law reported she had no idea anything was wrong with her paychecks.

If convicted, Kelley could serve up to 20 years in prison.

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NY Woman Gave Illegal Discounts To Family

Vilma Nokaj

For family and friends of Vilma Nokaj, going to her dental office was good for both their teeth and their wallets, according to police.

The Mahopac resident was arrested on Tuesday for allegedly giving illegal discounts worth $8,200 to eight family members and friends at the Southeast dental office where she worked, state police said. Nokaj, 41, allegedly discounted those accounts from January 2014 to August 2014, police said.

Nokaj was charged with third-degree grand larceny and first-degree falsifying business records, both felonies, and third-degree forgery, a misdemeanor, police said.

She was arraigned in Patterson Town Court and released. She is due in Southeast Town Court on July 14, police said.

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West Virginia Woman Pleads Guilty To Bank Fraud Of $120k

According to the information provided by the United States Department of Justice, the events happened between the years of 2011 and 2018.

In her position, Evans was responsible for accepting payments, posting entries into the accounting system, prepared and conducted deposits on behalf of the office and was in charge of their accounts payable, the information said.

During that time frame, Evans knowingly forged the signature of her employer without authorization and misappropriated checks from several institutions including the Boards of Education from Wood, Jackson and Pleasants counties.

Her employer’s forged signature made it possible to deposit the checks into her personal account with Poca Valley Bank in Spencer, the information said.

Throughout her scheme, Evans fraudulently appropriated more than 300 checks and embezzled more than $120,000, Stuart said.

Evans also forged her boss’ signature on three checks drawn on patients’ personal bank accounts, the information said.

After the checks were deposited into her personal account, Evans used her debit card or wrote checks to access the funds, the information said.

Evans owes the $120,000 in restitution, the information said.

Sentencing is scheduled on Nov. 18. She faces up to 30 years in prison.

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Ohio Woman Has Embezzlement Convictions

Jenny Draime Adams

This is Jenny Draime Adams, who lives in Brunswick , Ohio, which is a suburb of Cleveland.

Back when she used to live in Florida and went by the name Jenny Lynn Draime, she was convicted in 2006 of First Degree Larceny (which is for stealing more than $100,000) from a Palm Beach area dental practice.

She also has Florida arrests for theft of less than $5,000, motor vehicle theft, and domestic battery.

It appears that Jenny moved to Ohio circa 2008. We are unable to determine whether she has been working in the dental field in Ohio, but we do note a 2018 bankruptcy from which she was recently discharged, so clearly Jenny’s troubles have continued after her move to Ohio.

As always, we recommend a proper background investigation, including a criminal records check, before hiring any staff member.

If you have questions, please feel free to call us at 888-398-2327.

MN Woman Suspected Of Embezzling $800k From Practice; Cites Financial Difficulties

Shirley Marie Dunn

A onetime office manager for an Edina dental practice stole nearly $400,000 from her employer and possibly much more for lavish out of town trips, superstar concerts, her children’s school fees and other items, according to charges filed Monday and other court records.

Shirley M. Dunn, 45, of Shakopee, was charged in Hennepin County District Court with seven counts of felony theft by swindle in connection with the roughly $395,000 she stole from York Dental from 2015 until she was fired in the fall of 2018.

However, a search warrant affidavit listing a vast and varied array of purchases reveals that police suspect her thievery began years earlier and totaled somewhere north of $800,000.

Dunn was charged by summons and has a court appearance scheduled for Aug. 11. Dunn said she was unaware that charges were filed and declined to comment about the allegations.

The search warrant affidavit filed five months after she was fired alleged that “Dunn conducted approximately $175,000 in unauthorized transactions on her company-issued credit card and found approximately $680,000 in missing deposits.”

The affidavit pointed to many suspicious purchases Dunn made dating back to 2012 that police connected to postings on her Facebook page. They include:

• Trips with friends to the Sanctuary Resort & Spa in Scottsdale, Ariz., and Cabo San Lucas, Mexico.

• A limo ride for three girls heading to a Justin Bieber concert.

• Attendance at a Luke Bryan concert in Minneapolis.

• A visit to Los Angeles and “Endless Mimosas and brunch,” according to a comment accompanying a photo on her Facebook page.

“Dunn was living well beyond her means, which is a motive for why she was embezzling money from York Dental and making unauthorized transactions on the company credit card,” the affidavit read.

The affidavit also revealed $16,000 spent on beauty supplies, about $2,600 for iTunes and roughly $26,000 at clothing retailers.

According to the criminal complaint:

Dunn joined York Dental as office manager for its main Edina location and Shakopee clinic, and was responsible for much of the business’ accounting responsibilities.

One of York Dental’s owners determined that Dunn had been using a business credit card for personal uses. She admitted to the misuse and was fired in October 2018.

The auditor discovered that “most of the cash received by the practice had not been deposited and that the dental practice sustained a significant loss,” the charges read.

Authorities also reviewed records for Dunn’s business credit card, and York Dental identified many unauthorized charges. They were for flights for her and her boyfriend, dry cleaning, dining and her children’s school fees.

Her Amazon account also showed purchases for cosmetics, jewelry, clothing, home decor and other items “not related to the dental practice,” the charges continued.

The criminal complaint also said that Dunn “had financial difficulties,” which the charging document did not address in specificity.

At the time the charges were filed, Dunn was working as an office manager for an unspecified landscape company.

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Oregon Office Manager Charged With Embezzling $140k

Shannon Wilson

An office manager at a Salem dentist’s office was charged with embezzling more than $140,000 over seven years from the business.

Shannon Raye Wilson, 42, of Amity, was arrested by Salem police detectives July 2 for the crimes of aggravated identity theft, fraudulent use of a credit card and first-degree aggravated theft, according to Lt. Treven Upkes with the Salem Police Department. 

Using her position as office manager at the clinic of Margaret Giruc D.D.S. in Salem, Wilson allegedly embezzled company funds between 2013 and 2020, Upkes said. Officials said there is no indication at this time that Wilson used any patient information to “facilitate her criminal activity.”

The Marion County District Attorney’s office is still reviewing the case, according to Deputy District Attorney Amy Queen.

According to a probable cause statement, on April 3, Ofc. Roger Hibbeler took a report from the dentist’s business owner who said an employee obtained an “unauthorized line of credit” and used it to embezzle at least $146,107 belonging to the business. 

The suspect was in charge of payroll and business finances including paying bills with the company credit card. She had full access to company accounts and records, and was also in charge of bookkeeping. 

The victim told police she did not notice anything was wrong until she was forced to close the dentist’s office temporarily due to the COVID-19 pandemic. 

In reviewing finances, she noticed the company card had an outstanding balance of $18,000. She also discovered that a second “unauthorized” credit card issued to the dentist’s office was opened using the suspect’s home as a billing address. 

The card had been active as early as March 2013 and had numerous transactions for restaurants, bars, hotels, retails stores, airline tickets, subscriptions, groceries and car rentals.

The victim said business profits from her bank account were being used to pay the credit card balances. 

Wilson was taken lodged at the Marion County Jail July 2 and released on recognizance the same day. If charges are filed by the district attorney’s office, Wilson’s arraignment is scheduled at 9 a.m. Aug. 3.

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Two Dental Assistants From The Same Practice Charged With Defrauding Insurance

Alma Almendariz

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The state Department of Insurance says a second dental assistant from the same office has been charged with insurance fraud, identity theft and grand theft after allegedly falsifying insurance claims.

Alma Almendariz, 35, was booked Wednesday into Kern County Jail and is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on 67 felonies, according to the department and court website. She’s held on $690,000 bail.

Almendariz used insider knowledge to submit fraudulent insurance claims to AFLAC for procedures that were not performed, according to a Department of Insurance release. She is accused of submitting 23 fraudulent claims for her and her son and receiving $10,165 from AFLAC.

Maria Uranday

Maria Uranday, who worked at the same dental office as Almendariz, pleaded not guilty in June to similar charges and is next due in court in August. The dental office was not named in the news release.

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FBI — Oregon Woman Faces Charges For Stealing From Dental Clinic — Also Indicted For $1 Million Missing From Medical Clinic

Anndrea Jacobs

May 28, 2020, an Oregon woman, Anndrea D. Jacobs, age 49, turned herself into the U.S. Marshals Service on an outstanding warrant for bank fraud. The FBI obtained the underlying criminal complaint, alleging that Jacobs stole checks payable to a Hood River, Oregon, dental practice worth more than $22,000 between August and October 2019. Jacobs worked as a contractor for the clinic until her termination in May 2020. The FBI and IRS-Criminal Investigation Division agents are working this case jointly.

She made her initial appearance today, May 28, 2020, on these charges before U.S. Magistrate Judge John V. Acosta in the U.S. District Court in Portland. The judge ordered that Jacobs be detained pending a continued hearing on the government’s motion to revoke her pretrial release in an older case against her.

Jacobs is already scheduled to go to trial in August 2020 on a separate indictment charging her with similar behavior at a medical practice in La Grande. The 2018 indictment spells out 15 charges, including: four counts of wire fraud, five counts of filing false income tax returns, four counts of aiding and assisting in the filing of false income tax returns, one count of false impersonation of a U.S. Government employee, and one count of aggravated identity theft.

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Kristi Heffington’s Accomplice Convicted; Loses Appeal

Jami Peterson

Visitors to our Hall of Shame are probably familiar with the saga of Kristi Heffington.

(The main story on Ms. Heffington is HERE, a story about a friend of Ms. Heffington who was also indicted is HERE, and we placed a business, S.O.S. Dental Experts, for which Ms. Heffington appears to have some involvement, on our watchlist — see story HERE.)

As hard as it is to believe, there is more. A woman named Jami Marie Peterson, also of Maryland, was convicted of theft scheme, conspiracy to commit theft scheme, identity fraud, and conspiracy to commit identity fraud for being Ms. Heffington’s accomplice in various fraud schemes. The court transcripts reveal that Ms. Heffington and Ms. Peterson had made plans to open a bar together and that they needed money to do so. The transcript indicates that Ms. Heffington was the sister of Ms. Peterson’s fiance.

In May 2020, Ms. Peterson’s appeal of her convictions was denied. The appeals judge specifically highlighted that “the trial court indicated that it had the opportunity to observe Ms. Peterson and judge her credibility and that ‘quite honestly I don’t believe a word [she] said’ “.

The appeal judge also highlighted Ms. Peterson’s conflicting statements around her involvement with creating Care Credit accounts used by Ms. Heffington in the perpetuation of her fraud. Ms. Peterson initially denied her involvement in the creation of these accounts but subsequently issued an “affidavit of correction” in which she did confirm her involvement.

Here is the full appeal court decision: