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A North Platte woman found guilty of embezzling more than $120,000 from her former employer was sentenced Aug. 26 in Lincoln County District Court.
Bonnie Kleewein, 14525 Branting Road, received 180 days in Lincoln County jail and five years probation. She was also ordered to pay $106,816.54 in restitution, to be paid back over the term of her probation.
She will be allowed to secure a work release.
Kleewein had been scheduled to be sentenced in July, but her attorney Robert Lindemeier asked for an extension. Another one of Lindemeier’s clients, Donald Lee, was to be sentenced for second degree murder on the same day.
Lindemeier told the court that he did not believe he could devote adequate attention to Kleewein’s case under the circumstances. He requested and received a continuance.
Kleewein pleaded no contest May 19 to felony theft from North Platte dentist David Zalewski.
After hearing the facts of the case, Lincoln County District Judge John Murphy pronounced her guilty.
Kleewein was a receptionist in the dental office.
According to court records, Zalewski was planning a merger with another North Platte dentist, Benjamin Lashlay, since the beginning of 2007.
During the transition, Kleewein complained about the merger and ended up resigning in July 2007, the affidavit said. It was then that Anne Zalewski, David’s wife, began auditing the books and noticed discrepancies in cash received at the business and money deposited into the dentist’s business account, the affidavit said.
According to the affidavit, rather than deposit money from patients into the account, Kleewein noted cash accounts as credit card transactions. Approximately $30,000 to $40,000 was missing, the affidavit said.
The affidavit also said that Anne Zalewski had also discovered that Kleewein had allegedly been altering checks written by David Zalewski. Several pages of a carbonless imprint checkbook were missing.
After receiving images of the checks from the bank, including the missing checks, Anne discovered numerous checks had been altered, the affidavit said.
The affidavit said Kleewein’s name was written directly over the name of the person for whom the check was supposed to go on some checks and the value of the checks were changed by as many as a thousand dollars or more.
The affidavit said it appeared Kleewein wrote “very lightly” on the original check, just hard enough to leave an imprint of the legitimate name on the ledger but easy enough for her to erase the correct name on the check. Approximately $100,000 was embezzled in this manner, according to the affidavit.
The affidavit said Kleewein cashed the checks at Union Pacific Credit Union and US Bank in North Platte.
Kleewein was also charged with stealing from her invalid mother’s bank account but those charges were later dismissed.
Chief Deputy Lincoln County Attorney Todd Engleman said, during the state’s investigation of the theft from Kleewein’s mother, the state received “conflicting information” that would have made prosecuting the abuse of a vulnerable adult difficult.
A subsequent civil case filed against Kleewein in Lincoln County District Court in 2007 by Zalewski was dismissed without prejudice and could be filed again after the completion of the criminal case.
Content retrieved from: North Platte Nebraska’s favorite newspaper – The North Platte Bulletin