Vicki Zachary of Dowagiac, Michigan will spend about half a year in jail for stealing money and drugs from the dentist's office where she worked. That's according to the Niles Daily Star.
Vicki Zachary, 45, was sentenced to 180 days, or roughly six months, behind bars, and five years’ probation, after she pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement and ten charges of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. Zachary admitted to stealing between $200 to $300 a couple of times a week over a period of several years while working as an office manager at Burling and Gillesby. That added up to a total of nearly $150,000. She also confessed to calling in fraudulent prescriptions for drugs and then keeping them for herself. As a condition of her plea agreement, Vicki Zachary also agreed to repay the stolen money. Have questions or concerns about your practice? Call us toll-free at 888-398-2327 or click HERE. Did you know that Prosperident is the only investigation firm that is endorsed by the Michigan Dental Association?
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DOWAGIAC, MI -- A 45-year-old Dowagiac woman accused of stealing money -- and the authority to order Vicodin-- from the dentist's office she managed for 15 years turned herself in to authorities Jan. 2 and now faces felony drug and embezzling charges. Vicki Zachary, of 304 Gray St., is being charged with embezzlement of between $50,000 and $100,000 from Burling and Gillesby, DDS, P.C., a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, according to a news release from Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz and Dowagiac Director of Public Safety Tom Atkinson. In addition, Vicki Zachary is accused of 10 times using false authorization from the office to obtain a controlled substance, hydrocodone. That resulted in 10 counts of Obtaining by Fraud a Controlled Substance. Cass County assistant prosecutor Tiffiny Vahwinkle said the alleged embezzlement and drug purchases related to the specific charges were from September 2011 through December 2012. Police are investigating whether incidents may have gone back further, Dowagiac Deputy Chief Steve Grinnewald said.
Grinnewald said Vicki Zachary came under investigation after a Van Buren County pharmacy contacted the dentist's office questioning a prescription Zachary tried to have filled. The office contacted police, who found 33 prescriptions, for 30-day supply of pills, under Zachary's name or names of her various relatives, the deputy police chief said. The dentist's office, upon investigation, determined that money was missing, too, and began an audit that became the basis for the embezzlement charge, Grinnewald said. He said that police do not know where the money allegedly embezzled by Vicki Zachary went, and that it appears the pills were for her personal use. Bond was set at $25,000 cash/surety on the embezzlement charge and $10,000 for the controlled substance charge. Zachary is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges, which were authorized by the prosecutor's office, at 9 a.m. Jan. 16 in front of District Court Judge Stacey Rentfrow.
Embezzlement series: Part 3
While Dr. Charles Burling was filling teeth, his 15-year office employee was embezzling $150,000 of his Dowagiac dental practice's money. By Kathy Jessup EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third story in our six-part series, “Other Peoples’ Money.” Today the Journal talks to a victim who lost $150,000. While Dr. Charles Burling was filling teeth, his 15-year office employee was embezzling $150,000 of his Dowagiac dental practice’s money. Over several years, in more than 400 thefts, the money disappeared. “I had a sense that something wasn’t right for almost two years,” Burling said. “We wanted to upgrade our X-ray machines but there never seemed to be the extra money to do that. I had our accounting firm look into it and they found nothing really glaring. She had hidden things pretty well.” Despite good business, the practice also had to freeze staff wages. “Vicki Zachary was walking out with the gals’ raises and we didn’t know it. That had a pretty negative impact on the staff.” Burling said his staff was shocked to learn the woman was losing her car and her home, despite earning “pretty good money.” Finally it was the prescription pad rather than the accounting ledger that sparked scrutiny. “The thing that got the investigation rolling was the discovery that Vicki Zachary was also calling in prescriptions for herself, using her husband and her children’s names,” Burling recalled. “She was let go while those charges were being investigated and then someone else saw the financial things she had done.”
For her crime, Vicki Zachary, a first-time offender, was sentenced to six months in the Cass County Jail, serving only about four, according to Burling, based on good conduct during incarceration. Burling said the practice received $25,000 from its insurance coverage, all of it spent on accountants who ferreted out the losses and reconstructed the practice’s accounts. Burling expects to recover none of the $150,000 from the embezzler. His experience supports justice critics who argue embezzlement sentencing is an ineffective deterrent. “This woman was serving months in jail for embezzling about the same amount of money she was earning in a year,” he said, referring to her four months of time served. Vicki Zachary, the long-time, trusted office manager, had been pocketing cash payments made to the practice, then used insurance checks to make the books balance. Besides a drug addiction, the woman had also turned to gambling, hoping a big win at area casinos would provide the cash to pay back the money she was stealing. Later, when confronted with reconstructed accounts showing she had taken $150,000, Burling said the woman did not believe her theft had amounted to that much. “Probably the thing that hurts the most is that this person had really become part of our family in that 15 years,” Burling said. “But when the poop hits the fan, you have to get over that quickly and realize that person doesn’t give a rip about you or they wouldn’t have stolen from you.” In many respects, the Dowagiac dental practice case is stereotypical of the national embezzlement experience. The perpetrators are more likely to be women than men, although men tend to take larger amounts, studies show.
This perpetrator was a first-time offender who was highly trusted by her long-time employers. The Marquet Report on Embezzlement found “less than 5 percent of major embezzlers have a prior criminal history.” Burling said an official at the Michigan Dental Association has indicated 65 percent of the state’s practices eventually will be the victims of embezzlement. The Heckman Group, a Holland medical management firm, estimates that in any five-year period, 80 percent of all medical practices will experience embezzlement. So if embezzlement is so widespread, why are there not more prosecutions? Probably for the same reason it’s difficult to find an individual or organization willing to talk publicly about their experience. Often the reason is shame and to protect a business reputation. “Maybe more harmful was the loss in the confidence our patients had in us,” Burling acknowledged. “We had some people come to us and tell us, ‘If you can’t run a business, I don’t have confidence in you.’ I had to say to some of them, ‘Look, I’ve been fixing your teeth for the last 35 years. I guess you think I can do that.’.”
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