Prosperident's Supervising Examiner Christine Geary has taken her share of embezzlers off the streets. She can now add one more success to her distinguished career as one of dentistry's premiere crimefighters.
Botox, Nordstrom, Starbucks, and a trip to Lovers.
For some, it might sound like a productive day of shopping.
But according to 350 pages of police reports and warrants compiled by Edmonds, Washington detective Julie Govantes, expenses at these stores and many others were funded by at least $130,000 embezzled from a dental office.
Following a year-long investigation, police arrested longtime accountant Kimberly Klaudt, 51, for investigation of defrauding Green City Dental of up to $250,000. Investigators found it was at least the fourth time Klaudt had been fired from a local dental office amid allegations of internal theft.
Klaudt deferred comment on the arrest to her attorney.
Klaudt started working for Green City Dental in late 2015. She had known the owner for 30 years. As office manager, Klaudt had access to all the business bank accounts, QuickBooks, payroll and confidential personal information, according to police.
In 2017, the owner was “alerted to suspicious activity” on an American Express card that was charged to the business. Klaudt’s employer confronted her, but she claimed it was for business expenses. When asked to see bank statements to verify the purchases, Klaudt said the account was closed and she did not have access to them, according to the report.
In 2019, Klaudt told her employer the business would not make payroll, and asked for a loan of $145,000 at 70% interest, detectives wrote.
In 2021, the dental office received a call from Homestreet Bank about charges on a personal Nordstrom credit card. The banker said over the past few years, a business checking account had paid off $55,000 on the credit card, detectives wrote.
The owner confronted Klaudt again. She reportedly said it was her personal credit card and she was using it for business purposes. When asked to provide bank statements, Klaudt became “very emotional” and accused her employer of not trusting her.
Klaudt was fired from the dental office in September 2022, around the time the owner of Green City Dental reported her suspicions to police.
After hiring Prosperident to perform an audit, the business owner learned Klaudt reportedly charged up to $250,000 of company money for personal use. It was difficult to tell how many of the unauthorized charges were for business expenses.
Police found the following dubious expenses:
■ $120,000 to an American Express card;
■ $75,000 on a Nordstrom card;
■ $35,000 to a Chase card;
■ $14,500 in a check to Klaudt,
■ $3,000 to a Henry Schein card;
■ $2,900 to an Amazon card;
■ $715 to a Fortiva card.
The detective obtained search warrants and worked with banks and credit card companies to reconcile the purchases. While many charges seemed legitimate, detectives discovered over $130,000 went toward jewelry, shoes, clothes, handbags, cosmetic services and other personal items.
The business’ Chase credit card showed 11 unauthorized charges of $4,800 to a local hair salon, nail salon, Nordstrom, Nordstrom Rack and Lovers.
Klaudt had been an authorized user of Green City Dental’s American Express card. Police discovered at least 36 suspicious charges on the account, totaling $14,000, from the Refinery Hair salon, a nail salon, a gas station, department stores and a medical spa offering skin treatments.
“The suspect took advantage of the trust the victim had in her and used it to steal from the company,” Edmonds police Cmdr. Josh McClure wrote in a press release.
‘A premeditated and willful act’
Police uncovered evidence showing Klaudt’s history of deception went much deeper than Green City.
In the early 2010s, Klaudt worked for Insight Seminars, a subsidiary of the Seattle Study Club organization, a network of dentists “interested in furthering their knowledge and providing excellent care,” according to its website.
Klaudt was hired as the study club’s coordinator and given a credit card and a checkbook to make purchases, along with primary accounting responsibilities.
“This was the first occasion that we did not run all accounting through our book keeper, but instead allowed Kimberly to do it herself,” the oral surgeon who ran Insight Seminars reported to police.
Around 2013 or 2014, the surgeon learned the Insight Seminars credit card bill was not paid, according to the employers’ statements. The employers’ banker noted a “consistent embezzlement problem” that began shortly after Klaudt’s employment, according to the report. The surgeon reportedly deactivated the credit card and asked Klaudt to meet at their office.
The next day, the employer received a text from Klaudt, saying she couldn’t make the meeting, but to look under her computer keyboard. Underneath the keyboard was an envelope written by an attorney on Klaudt’s behalf, admitting to the fraudulent charges, and that she would pay them back, detectives wrote. Klaudt was fired.
After an audit, the oral surgeon discovered $35,000 in fraudulent credit card charges and checks written by Klaudt. The checks she wrote to herself appeared to have the signature of her employer’s father. At the time, the father was ill and receiving chemotherapy, and had no recollection of signing the checks. Klaudt’s former boss believed the signatures were forged, according to the report.
Klaudt’s former boss said in a statement to police: “This demonstrated a premeditated and willful act of theft enacted by Kimberly, who in all likelihood is a sociopath.”
Klaudt also returned her laptop, though most of the information appeared to be erased, police wrote. She agreed to pay back the $35,000 and asked her employer to not seek criminal charges.
“Ultimately, as my father was very sick, we decided to give her the benefit of the doubt and elected not to prosecute hoping that this was some sort of one time event that she now regretted and would not repeat,” the employer reported to police. “Unfortunately, we were utterly wrong with that assessment.”
A ‘well-developed pattern of theft’
In 2014, Klaudt took a job as an office manager with Gentle Dental in Lynnwood. Her former employer cautioned the manager of Gentle Dental. Klaudt’s new employer said she would not be given “any responsibility with money” and would be watched closely, detectives wrote.
Six months later, the manager called the owner of Insight Seminars to notify him Klaudt had been caught stealing from the dental office. Klaudt stole over $40,000 in cash from patients who handed her the money to pay their bills, according to the police report. Klaudt again agreed to pay the money back if they did not seek criminal prosecution.
In 2016,Klaudt was convicted of first-degree theft for defrauding another dentist’s office, All Family Dental Care in Everett. Klaudt was responsible for handling money and making deposits.
She entered what’s known as an Alford plea in the case — maintaining her innocence, but acknowledging there was enough evidence for a jury to convict her. It’s considered a conviction.
Klaudt’s attorney argued for work release as an alternative to jail. In a risk assessment report submitted by her defense attorney, Klaudt was considered a low risk to re-offend, with an estimated recidivism rate of 13%.
Under state sentencing guidelines, Klaudt faced a maximum sentence of three months in jail, court documents said. In a victim statement submitted to the court, Klaudt’s former employer asked for the maximum sentence, saying she had displayed a “well-developed pattern of theft and lying.”
“… It is my hope that Kim Klaudt not be tempted to work in a position in which she would be handling money,” the victim statement read.
Superior Court Judge Eric Lucas denied the request for jail alternatives, ordering her to serve one month behind bars and to pay $16,936.17 in restitution.
On Nov. 2, police arrested Klaudt again outside her home on the new charges: investigation of first-degree theft and first-degree identity theft.
“Small businesses should routinely use an outside auditor to review their accounts and business practices,” according to the Edmonds Police Department. “Owners should make sure there is regular communication and oversight of those who are responsible for the company’s finances.”
Klaudt is a former owner of Sorelli Pizza, a Mountlake Terrace pizza restaurant she took over with her husband in 2009. Klaudt said she did not own any other businesses.
Klaudt was released from Snohomish County Jail on Nov. 3. She was not required to post bond.