CHRISTIANSBURG – A former dental office worker pleaded guilty Tuesday to stealing from her employer – including sometimes pocketing the co-payments from patients’ visits.
Kristie Dunn Johnson, 48, of Pearisburg, choked up as she told Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Robert Turk that she wanted to express “how sorry I am for the hurt I’ve caused everyone.”
In an agreement with prosecutors, Johnson pleaded guilty to four counts of embezzlement and was sentenced to consecutive three-year prison terms for a total of 12 years of incarceration. Turk then suspended the entire prison term and said that Johnson is to be on supervised probation for 10 years.
Turk ordered that Johnson repay $60,433.36 to her former employer, Huff Dentistry of Blacksburg – and to do so through the court, as she is to have no further contact with the business.
Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Nicole Terry said that the embezzlement came to light two years ago when a new office manager at the dental office discovered bookkeeping problems. Johnson, described as a recently terminated employee, was quickly identified as a suspect.
Johnson admitted to investigators that she had taken the co-payments that patients made, used an office credit card for personal expenses, falsified time sheets and otherwise helped herself to money from the dental office, Terry said. Johnson said that she had been driven by financial difficulties that started after her daughter began college, Terry said.
After the hearing, Johnson’s lawyer, Ryan Hamrick of Christiansburg, said that Johnson had not yet begun repayment, but also had not been given a total figure for restitution until a few days earlier.
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