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Peoria, Ill. – A federal grand jury today charged a Tazewell county woman with embezzling approximately $190,000 from a dental practice where she had worked for nearly 16 years. Constance (“Connie”) Gustafson, 53, of Hopedale, Ill., was charged with seven counts of mail fraud and four counts each of misapplication of funds relating to health care and theft relating to health care, as announced by U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis, Central District of Illinois.
According to the indictment, starting at least as early as 2006 and continuing to February 2014, Gustafson stole cash payments made by patients. To encourage patients to pay cash, Gustafson allegedly offered discounts, sometimes as much as 40 and 50 percent. The indictment alleges that on some occasions, she provided patients with receipts, but did not record the payments in the practice’s computer system or on the patients’ ledgers. On other occasions, she provided receipts and documented the payment in the computer system but then deleted the entries. It is also alleged that she concealed her theft of cash by applying insurance payments received for patients with insurance coverage to patients’ accounts which she had used to take cash. On some occasions Gustafson deleted dental procedures from patient records. As alleged, the defendant deposited the cash into her credit union account and used it for her personal benefit.
If convicted, the maximum statutory penalty for each count of mail fraud is up to 20 years in prison and up to 10 years in prison for each count of embezzlement or theft in connection with health care.
The case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Darilynn J. Knauss of the Peoria office. The charges are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.
The defendant will be given a notice to appear in federal court on a date to be determined by the U.S. Clerk of the Court.
Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.