In Lowell District Court this month, Omayra Rosario, of 58 Coburn St., pleaded innocent to 78 counts of forgery of a check, uttering of a false check and larceny.

She was released on personal recognizance. Her next court date is May 13 for a pretrial conference.

Defense attorney Christopher Spring declined to comment on behalf of his client. Rosario did not respond when a reporter knocked on the door of her Lowell home and left a business card.

Omayra Rosario's employer reported theft of insurance checks

Lowell police state in court documents that Lillian Desjardines, owner of Desjardines Management, formerly Community Dental Associates, reported the theft of insurance reimbursement checks last month. The theft was noticed when there was a discrepancy in her accounts.

Desjardines could not be reached for comment.

According to court documents, checks were allegedly altered and signed by Omayra Rosario, a six-year employee of the company who was hired as a receptionist in October 2003. Her responsibilities included balancing the daily receipts and assembling bank deposits.

Police allege that Omayra Rosario altered one of the company's three bank stamps so that she could deposit checks that were sent to reimburse dentists into her own account.

While Rosario's case is still pending, criminologist Larry Siegel, a professor of criminal justice and criminology at UMass Lowell, said in general the number of female embezzlers has remained "rock solid" for about 20 years. It is a group that isn't impacted by the economy, he said.

"During the boom times, the female embezzler steals because they want to keep up with the Jones," Siegel said. "During lean times, they say their husband is out of work and they hit a financial crunch."

He said the motivation may change, but the numbers don't.

It is a small group of people, about 5,000 per year across the U.S., he said.

Some embezzlers claim they are just "borrowing" the money with the intention of paying it back, he said.

"They aren't stealing, they are just borrowing. This neutralizes their guilt and allows them the freedom to steal your money," he said. "They aren't really criminals, they just drift into crime and drift out of it."