MIDLAND, MI — A Midland woman apologized Thursday, Oct. 18, for her involvement in an embezzlement scheme that stole nearly $1 million from the Midland dentist office where she worked. “What I did is inexcusable,” said Stephanie K. Cieslinski, moments before a judge ordered her to serve at least three years in prison for the crime. Cieslinski pleaded guilty to a charge of embezzlement of more than $100,000, although prosecutors allege the actual amount stolen from Midland Dentist Dr. Michael T. Smith over a period of years was close to $1 million. She also pleaded guilty in August to a count of embezzling between $50,000 and $100,000. Her husband, a former Bay County Jail corrections officer, also faces charges in the case.
Cieslinski appeared before Midland County Circuit Judge Jonathan E. Lauderbach Thursday to receive her sentence.
______________________ MIDLAND (WWJ/AP) – A Midland man who authorities say helped his wife embezzle from her dentist employer her has been sentenced to pay nearly $1 million in restitution. Kenneth Cieslinski, 55, appeared recently before a Midland County Circuit Court judge, where he was ordered to repay $998,000 and be on probation for five years. Cieslinski previously pleaded no contest to receiving and concealing property valued between $1,000 and $20,000, and receiving and concealing property valued between $200 and $1,000. Two counts of embezzlement between $1,000 and $20,000 were dismissed. Cieslinski declined to speak during the hearing. Defense lawyer Eric E. Proschek said the situation has been “hard for everybody.” Last year, Cieslinski’s 55-year-old wife Stephanie was ordered to serve at least three years in prison for stealing from the Midland dentist’s office of Dr. Michael Smith, where she was employed for 10 years as an office manager. Over the course of her employment, prosecutors say Stephanie Cieslinski collected checks written to Smith, used his signature stamp to endorse them and followed by endorsing the checks with her own name. She would then deposit the checks into her husband’s credit union account. The money, which amounted to nearly $1 million over a decade, was spent on vacations, college tuition, new cars, a Harley-Davidson, a $35,000 wedding, jewelry and more, The Midland Daily News reported.Detectives were investigating the couple for over a year and a half before charges were sought. Stephanie Cieslinski, who was also ordered to pay $715,000 in restitution, is currently appealing her case, according to court records. In January, a judge ordered Kenneth Cieslinski to turn over his wife’s property to Smith, including a laptop computer, jewelry and a 2006 Jeep Compass. Smith has also filed a civil suit against the couple. A hearing is set in that case in August.