ST. JOSEPH – State police say Donna Campbell, a Three Oaks woman employed as a bookkeeper by Bridgman Family Dental Care embezzled $88,116 – a sum that was just a bit more than what she lost in casino gambling.
Ms. Campbell, 53, has been sentenced to jail and a term of probation.
Campbell stole cash, altered payroll records to boost her salary and created company checks to pay herself for fabricated medical expenses over a four-year period, according to state police.
She was sentenced this week to 180 days in custody as part of a five-year probation term, ordered to pay $116,209 in restitution and a fine and costs of $2,370.
The sentence imposed Monday by Berrien County Trial Court Judge Charles LaSata allows Campbell to serve the last 60 days of her jail term on electronic tether.
The embezzlement is one of a growing number of cases involving trusted employees stealing from businesses and nonprofit organizations in Berrien County.
Campbell, and Donald Kuball, who was sentenced to prison this week for embezzling more than a half-million dollars from his former employer, Shelton Construction Co. of Benton Township, both spent large sums at area casinos, state police said.
Campbell was charged in November and later pleaded no contest to embezzlement of $50,000 to $100,000.
Criminal charges were filed after an independent audit obtained by Neal and Trisha Smith, the business owners, revealed that she embezzled $88,116 while working as company bookkeeper from 2004-08.
State Trooper Matt Churchill of the Bridgman post, who investigated, reported that the audit showed Campbell diverted $61,687 in cash to her own use. Checks paid to the business were deposited but cash was not, he said.
The audit also revealed that Campbell added unauthorized hours to her pay, along with more than her allotted number of sick and personal days to embezzle $12,237.
Bridgman Dental offers a medical expense plan for employees that allowed Campbell to automatically deposit money into a tax-exempt medical expense account, according to the police investigation. Under this plan, Campbell embezzled more money by writing business checks for $14,191 in excess of her actual medical expenses, the audit shows.
The $116,209 restitution figure includes the embezzled money and the cost of conducting an audit, said Assistant Prosecutor Gerald Vigansky.
Authorities are getting cooperation from casinos in investigating the growing number of embezzlement cases, Vigansky said. Casinos keep accurate records of activity and share information with police.
State police said Campbell admitted she had a gambling problem when shown that her gambling losses were nearly equal to the amount she embezzled.
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