Michigan's Jennifer Malone sentenced to one year for $94k steal

Home > Hall of Shame

April 24, 2024

Michigan's Jennifer Malone sentenced to one year for $94k steal

A woman who embezzled more than $115,000 from a dentist's office was sentenced to a year in jail and three years of probation Monday.

Circuit Court Judge Daniel Damman told the defendant, Jennifer Malone, that he was frustrated she asked him to consider her children's wellbeing during sentencing when she had not shown consideration for the victims of her theft.

"Are you thinking about kids while stealing $115,000?" Damman asked.

Malone was employed at Smile Zone Dental in Fort Gratiot until the company began to struggle financially, prompting the owners to hire an accountant to audit their funds in 2023.

The audit found Malone made several unauthorized payments to herself starting in 2022. She reportedly spent the dentist office's funds on rental cars and an elective surgery while reporting the expenses as office supplies and business expenses.

Kelley Varga, an office manager for Smile Zone Dental, told the court the office had still not recovered from the financial loss caused by Malone, and never expected to receive full restitution for the stolen funds.

Malone was sentenced under a plea agreement that reduced her charge from embezzlement of $100,000 or more to embezzlement between $20,000 and $50,000. The agreement was made on the condition that Malone refund the dental office $15,000 by her sentencing date. She had the check available, but the money reportedly came from an account belonging to her current employer's attorney.

Damman expressed concern that Malone was refunding the victim with money that wasn't hers. Meggan Delisi, Malone's attorney, revealed $8,000 of the refund was directly from her client, and the rest would be paid back to her employer from her paychecks.

Delisi said Malone was a single mother whose children had learning disabilities, and it was not immediately clear if her relatives could take care of them if she received a lengthy prison sentence.

"I think it would benefit everyone to have her out of prison so she can make these payments," Delisi said.

Malone also asked for leniency, saying she was remorseful for her actions, but risked losing her jobs, home and family if sent to prison.

"Starting over with my record would be extremely hard," Malone said. "I hope you take that under consideration."

St. Clair County Assistant Prosecutor Paul Soderberg pointed out Malone was already under probation for embezzlement in Oakland County when she was arrested. He also said it was hypocritical for Malone to ask the court to consider how its sentence effected her life when she had not done the same for the victims.

"I find it completely ironic and sort of disingenuous that she feels that way about herself, but not the people she stole from,' Soderberg said.

Both Soderberg and Damman said they were concerned that one of Malone's new employers was another dental office.

Damman said he didn't believe Malone was remorseful, saying her crime was carried out over a year.

"If you were remorseful, you could have stopped this at any time," Damman said. "You didn't stop this, you were caught."

This article originally appeared on Port Huron Times Herald: Former employee accused of stealing $94,000 from Fort Gratiot dental office

Chief Assistant Gratiot County Prosecutor Jennifer Shephard said Torres was an office manager at the business. As part of her duties, Torres handled payroll, and from 2012 until March of 2015 she claimed more hours and overtime pay than she actually worked.

By her calculations, Torres claimed more than 2,000 unearned hours over three years, Shephard said.

Those hours were reported on W2 forms, but it wasn’t until the most recent tax year that the owner of the business noticed the discrepancy. “Wendi Torres was a trusted employee,” Shephard said. “Her employer indicated (the embezzlement) affected his personal finances, but it also impacted the morale of the office staff, and that he was unable to give bonuses because of it.”

Wendi Torres received five years of probation

Torres, who has no previous criminal record, was put on five years of probation, and ordered to pay restitution within that same time.
Restitution is still being calculated, Shephard said.

Did you know that Prosperident is the only investigation firm that is endorsed by the Michigan Dental Association?  Click HERE to learn More.

Have questions about your practice? 


© 2024 - Prosperident | Designed in Halifax, Nova Scotia by: immediac