Michaelee Roehrs, the former office manager of a Hazel Dell, Washington dental clinic accused of stealing more than $560,000 from the practice and illegally obtaining prescription painkillers was sentenced Thursday to seven years in prison.
A frail-looking Michaelee Roehrs, 66, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree theft and seven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. The charges relate to her embezzling money from Sheron Dental between 2001 and 2008.
As part of a plea agreement, attorneys decided on an exceptional sentence of 84 months. Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle imposed the sentence Thursday.
Before sentencing, several people testified about the damage Michaelee Roehrs’ actions had on the business, both financially and emotionally.
Dentist Richard Sheron detailed the extensive steps Roehrs took in her embezzlement, going so far as to use the names of dead relatives when she forged prescriptions for the narcotic hydrocodone.
She also deposited checks into her personal bank account and offered fake discounts to patients in order to get them to pay with cash, he said.
But the worst thing she did, Sheron said, was violate the trust of the family-owned business.
“For over 20 years, I thought Ms. Roehrs was a trusted friend,” Sheron said as he faced the judge. “But she was a thief.”
That violation of trust was one of the reasons why Clark County sheriff’s Detective Tom Mitchum called it “egregious.”
“It was by far one of the most prolific financial crimes I’ve ever investigated,” he said.
The embezzlement was uncovered in March 2008 after a new office worker looked at the business records and realized something was amiss. The dentist hired a forensic accountant, who could only research records back to 2001, when a new software program was installed.
Sheron Dental won a lawsuit in June 2008 that found Roehrs civilly liable for $562,239. Criminal charges were filed in July.
Roehrs has paid $20,000 so far in restitution, but Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Jeannie Bryant said the victims don’t expect the financially strapped defendant to pay much more.
Roehrs’ court-appointed attorney, Jeff Barrar, called the plea agreement a reasonable conclusion to a case that could have entailed a month long trial.
“For a frail woman of her age in poor health, it might be a life sentence,” he said.
After hearing the victim, the prosecutor and her attorney go into extensive detail about the allegations, Roehrs stood up to have her say. She denied the accusation that she hadn’t shown any remorse.
“I’m very sorry for what I did,” Roehrs said, breaking into tears. “I love Dr. Sheron. I love his family.”