GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WGFL) — A Gainesville bookkeeper is accused of embezzling more than $156,000 from an oral surgeon over the last couple of years
Alachua County Sheriff’s investigators on Friday arrested and charged 45-year-old Heather Hushelpeck with grand larceny over $100,000, embezzlement, and fraud. Hushelpeck is being held without bond at the Alachua County Jail pending a court appearance Saturday morning.
An arrest report says Hushelpeck was fired in December from her job as bookkeeper at the oral surgery office of Marvin M. Slott D.D.S after she couldn’t explain a $1,300 charge onto her credit card and a $7,500 transaction in a former employee’s name.
“Heather didn’t have any reasonable explanation why that money was gone,” says Financial Detective Kyle Reedy, from the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.
The report says she returned to the office three days later to reinstall the accounting software she had deleted. The report says Hushelpeck started crying and told the staff she “f***ed up.”
The report says Hushelpeck admitted to taking money for at least a year, through a variety of ways, including writing checks to herself, charging back refunds to herself, taking money clients paid, and only partially deposit funds. Investigators say Hushelpeck told her former employer the total amount taken was over $100,000.
Court documents allege Hushelpeck took payments from the oral surgeon’s office and wrote out checks payable to the Star Center Children’s Theatre and the Howard Bishop Middle School PTA by coding them as payments for supplies. Investigators say as treasurer for both organizations, Hushelpeck was able to then withdraw the money for her own use. WGFL
Hushelpeck attempted to settle the case with Slott’s attorney without involving police. Deputies say she wrote an email to the attorney offering to settle by paying back $75,000 and borrowing another $25,000.
An email from Slott’s attorney to Hushelpeck, however, says a preliminary analysis found she stole more than $403,000. The email gave Hushelpeck 30 days to pay the full amount or be sued. Investigators say so far they’ve only been able to prove the $156,000 amount.
“I have never seen an embezzlement case like this,” says Reedy.
Slott in December filed a 42-page lawsuit against Hushelpeck, her husband Erik, Star Center Children’s Theatre and the Howard Bishop Middle School PTA. The lawsuit alleges Hushelpeck paid the PTA more than $6,700 and Star Theatre more than $26,000. Eric Hushelpeck has not been charged with a crime. Both he and his wife responded to the lawsuit by asking for more time.
The PTA responded by denying any knowledge of the allegations and asking the court to dismiss it from the case. It also says Hushelpeck is no longer its treasurer.
Star Center has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit, according to court records.
“You are going to get caught at some point,” says Reedy. “And when you do, it’s going to cost you more to get yourself out of the situation.”