MN Office Manager Sentenced for Stealing $120k

Sandra Kelley

WALKER — A 61-year-old Backus woman pleaded guilty to embezzling over $100,000 from a Pine River dental office.

According to court documents, Sandra Jean Kelley said she stole the money to support her gambling and shopping habits.

Kelley was convicted and sentenced Monday, March 15, in Cass County District Court on felony theft of diverting funds from Pine River Dental Arts. Kelley, who was charged Sept. 25, 2020, pleaded guilty to the theft before being sentenced. Judge Jana M. Austad ordered a stay of imposition on her sentence, which includes Kelley serving 60 days in Cass County Jail, being placed on supervised probation for five years and paying a $795 fine.

Kelley has until March 29 to report to jail and, once she has served her 60 days, the conditions of her supervised release include not having contact with the victims, not possessing firearms or ammunition, not voting and she must complete a gambling assessment.

According to the criminal complaint, the CEO of Pine River Dental Arts discovered discrepancies leading her to believe Kelley, the former office manager, mishandled company funds. When Kelley was employed, she was the only employee who oversaw the office financial duties, including payroll and accounts receivable.

A Cass County sheriff investigator spoke with Kelley, who admitted she stole from her former employer, that it had been going on since 2013 and she did it to support her gambling and shopping habits. Kelley stated she paid her personal credit card with company funds.

The CEO claimed Kelley took extra hours through payroll and she took cash from the company account for personal use. The CEO reported that during the COVID-19 pandemic office shutdown, she began to examine the business’ records and discovered that between Oct. 9, 2017, and March 31, 2020, Kelley used the corporate checking account to pay $84,633.08 off her personal credit card, the complaint stated. She also discovered Kelley paid for her personal cellphone bill with a corporate credit card on March 30, 2020, in the amount of $852.24.

The CEO reviewed the payroll records and compared them with office records and discovered that between Sept. 24, 2015, and March 9, 2020, Kelley overpaid herself $44,587.65, the complaint stated. The CEO said after comparing business records with cash deposits at the bank, that between Sept. 24, 2015, and March 31, 2020, Kelley took over $80,878.16 in cash.

The complaint further stated Kelley’s daughter-in-law also worked for the business from 2013 through 2019 as a patient coordinator. The CEO reported records showed Kelley overpaid her daughter-in-law as an employee by $27,908.91 between Sept. 24, 2015, and Sept. 5, 2019. Kelley asserted her daughter-in-law was completely unaware that she modified her payroll. The daughter-in-law reported she had no idea anything was wrong with her paychecks.

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Ohio Woman has Embezzlement Convictions

Jenny Draime Adams

This is Jenny Draime Adams, who lives in Brunswick , Ohio, which is a suburb of Cleveland.

Back when she used to live in Florida and went by the name Jenny Lynn Draime, she was convicted in 2006 of First Degree Larceny (which is for stealing more than $100,000) from a Palm Beach area dental practice.

She also has Florida arrests for theft of less than $5,000, motor vehicle theft, and domestic battery.

It appears that Jenny moved to Ohio circa 2008. We are unable to determine whether she has been working in the dental field in Ohio, but we do note a 2018 bankruptcy from which she was recently discharged, so clearly Jenny’s troubles have continued after her move to Ohio.

As always, we recommend a proper background investigation, including a criminal records check, before hiring any staff member.

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Please be Careful When Hiring a Consultant!

blank Update October 29, 2018: It appears that this business is using a new name — East Coast Medical and Dental Staffing LLC.  Same website, same phone number.
Original Article: We are fortunate to work with some excellent consultants.  However, because consulting to dentists is an unregulated profession, there is nothing stopping people with very checkered pasts holding themselves out as consultants. The woman shown in the picture above, who has used many different names in the past owns a couple of businesses providing services to dentists. However, there is information about her that should make any dentist question the wisdom of hiring her. The name she is using for business purposes is Kari Swanson.  Some other names that she may have used in the past are Kari Lyn Swanson, L Schukman, Kari Lyn Schuckman, Kari Lynn Swanson, and Kari Schuckman Gomez. The two companies that she owns are:
  1.  Dental Temp Solutions, located in Virginia, which has a website that looks like this:
blank 2.  The second business is called KLE Dental Jobs.  Its logo looks like this: blank It seems that Kari has been in some trouble over the years.  Here are some of the criminal charges that we have identified: It is questionable whether Kari will be able to carry on her businesses for much longer, because in May 2018 she received a fifty one month federal prison sentence (to be served starting on January 1, 2019) for embezzling from a Virginia dentist.  She was also ordered to repay a six-figure amount at the lofty rate of $150.00 per month. Her sentencing document is here: [pdf-embedder url=”” title=”Kari Gomez Sentencing May 2018″] However, as alarming as it is that someone with this particular baggage is selling her services to unsuspecting dentists, this conviction was not the only brush with the law for Kari.  A search of Virginia state records revealed a number of other convictions including a least a few that were fraud-related.  Based on the number of names that Ms. Schuckman / Swanson / Gomez has used over the years, it is entirely possible that there is more, but here is what we found: blank We asked Kari for her comments but did not receive a response. Kari is not the only consultant who causes us concern.  Please see this post –
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Pennsylvania Woman Convicted of $100K Theft From Montco Dental Office; Receives Six Months House Arrest


NORRISTOWN — A Bucks County woman faces several years of court supervision and a hefty restitution bill after she admitted to embezzling more than $100,000 from her employer, a Montgomery County dental office.

Michelle Zonay, 40, of the 500 block of Barrington Court, Sellersville, was sentenced in Montgomery County Court to 60 months in the county’s intermediate punishment program, the first six months of which must be served under house arrest, after she pleaded guilty to a felony charge of theft by unlawful taking in connection with incidents that occurred while she worked for Celebrity Smiles along Bethlehem Pike in Springfield.

While under house arrest Zonay can leave her home only for court-approved purposes such as work and medical appointments.

Zonay will serve the remainder of the 60-month sentence under intensive probation.

Judge Todd D. Eisenberg also ordered Zonay to pay $103,849 in restitution in connection with the theft.

An investigation began in November 2017 when the owner of the dental practice reported to Springfield Township police that he discovered an employee, identified as Zonay, had been stealing from the business, according to the criminal complaint.

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VA dental worker gets four years for theft


WILLIAMSBURG — The former office manager for a Williamsburg dental practice was sentenced to four years in prison Monday for embezzling more than $225,000 from her employers.

The crime occurred from Dec. 1997 through Sept. 2002, effectively doubling Georgia L. Brazier’s salary during those years, said Williamsburg-James City County Commonwealth’s Attorney Mike McGinty.

It hurt all the employees at Bennett Butler & Associates on Bacon Avenue because their profit-sharing benefits and bonuses were affected, McGinty said.

The theft was discovered after Brazier left her job — and the office’s income went up right away, McGinty said.

With the help of her family, Brazier, 56, paid $70,000 in restitution Monday, McGinty said. He said the judge ordered her to pay another $160,000 in restitution.

“Mrs. Brazier methodically betrayed our trust, as well as her co–workers and used it for her own personal gain and enjoyment,” said Cory Butler, one of the dentists the defendant worked for. “Her actions were deceitful, selfish, malicious and manipulative.” The sentence should send a message to others who consider embezzling money, Butler said.

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Big Mistake — Chicago dentist reassigns embezzler instead of firing her — creates big issues when she claims unemployment


Being a busy and prominent dentist specializing in children`s trembling mouths, Marvin Berman needed an efficient office manager.

He has seven chairs and nine employees.

And for five years, he was delighted with Debra`s performance as office manager. She was cheerful, punctual and diligent.

Then a problem arose, as can happen in the happiest of offices.

Debra went on vacation. And while she was gone, Berman noticed something strange about the bookkeeping. Some of the numbers didn`t add up.

So he brought in an accountant. And what didn’t add up was about $135,000 in cash payments from patients over five years.

Debra, it turned out, had been skimming and juggling the books to cover it up.

When she returned from vacation, the cops came by the clinic in the Sauganash neighborhood and told her she was under arrest for embezzlement.

By then, Berman had talked to his attorney. And the attorney told him not to fire Debra. Nowadays, you can`t be too careful about firing people, even suspected embezzlers. You might have a federal or state agency on your back. Maybe even the United Nations.

So Berman assigned Debra to another job, where she wouldn’t be near the cash or the kids.

But she didn`t come back to work, which is understandable. There might have been tensions during the coffee break.

A couple of weeks after Debra was nabbed, Berman received a form from the state informing him that Debra had applied for unemployment compensation.

Berman knew that because he was Debra’s last employer, if he didn’t provide a good reason for her being unemployed, he would be stuck with part of the tab.

He filed a protest, saying: “This former employee should not be getting any money whatsoever. She is presently being investigated by the state`s attorney`s office for embezzlement of over $130,000. She has made a confession! I am not paying anything!”

So the paper game began. It was one form or one letter or one form letter after another.

Some of them are real bureaucratic prizes. For example:

“If, with respect to the above individual, you receive a Form BIS-31, Notice to Last Employing Unit, a Form BIS-305, Notice to Chargeable Employer or Other Interested Party, in which the base period ending date differs from the base period ending date indicated above, submit another BIS-22, Notice of Possible Ineligibility, in accordance with 56 Illinois Administrative Code, Chapter IV, Section 2720.130.”

Try figuring that one out after you spend a long day having your fingers chomped by wailing 4-year-olds.

A week or so passed, and Berman received a form letter telling him that his protest had been denied.

“Since the reason for which the claimant was discharged did not constitute a deliberate or willful disregard of the employer’s interest, the claimant was discharged not for misconduct connected with the work.

“Therefore, this determination finds the claimant eligible for benefits.”

To which Berman said: “Huh?” If pocketing $135,000 wasn’t “misconduct connected with the work,” what would she have to do-pluck out Berman`s eyes? So he protested again, telling them that a long police report stated that Debra had confessed but wanted to cut a deal with Berman. Maybe give some of the money back.blank

Berman refused to deal.

The state sent him another letter. Yes, the young lady had been arrested, had been indicted, and was awaiting trial on a felony rap.

But that was not sufficient reason to deny her unemployment benefits.

As one of the letters from a bureaucrat said: “The claimant has not admitted an act of theft connected with the work to a representative of the Director (of the unemployment department). An admission signed by the claimant has not been submitted. The claimant has not been convicted in a court of competent jurisdiction.

“Therefore, the claimant`s benefit rights based upon wages earned prior to the discharge may not be denied.”

See? Debra was no fool. She didn’t walk in to the state office and say:

“Hi, I’d like some comp, but I want to sign a paper admitting that I filched 135 big ones from my last boss.”

So the paper game went on. Berman protested, some other bureaucrat gave him a protest number, his protest was reviewed and denied. And another protest was reviewed and denied.

Meanwhile, Debra’s felony case dragged its way through the crowded court system. A few months ago, a judge found her guilty. She received probation and is supposed to make restitution, but Berman isn’t holding his breath until he sees that $135,000 again.

And recently Berman received still another letter from the bureaucrats.

This one informed him that his unemployment insurance rates were more than quadrupling-to $3,654 a year from $756.

That’s because the premiums go up when there are more claims. So his went up because Debra had filed a claim and collected.

Laughing rather giddily, Berman said: “Why should I pay for it? What did I do? I’m the victim.

“She steals $135,000 from me. I spend $1,000 on a handwriting expert just to be sure it’s her. I leave work many times to attend hearings at the unemployment office and in court, and that costs me money. I have to pay a lawyer and an accountant.

“And now, to add insult to injury, they push my rates up several thousand dollars. What’s going on here?”

Hey, I can’t stand a whiner. Consider yourself lucky, doc. Debra hasn’t sued you, has she?

At least not yet.

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Royse City, TX man sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing $100,000 from Rockwall dental clinic

blank By J.J. Smith. A Royse City man has been sentenced to ten years in prison by a Rockwall County jury after stealing nearly $100,000 from his former employer, Goliad Dental in Rockwall, owned by Dr. Barney Barnhill. Former Office Manager Billy Ray Benavidez, 35, (pictured above) was ordered to pay a fine of $10,000 by the jury in the 382nd District Court. District Judge Brett Hall also ordered Benavidez to pay $99,942 in restitution to Goliad Dental. His prison term and fine were the maximum allowed by law for theft over $20,000 but under $100,000, according to the chief prosecutor, Rockwall County Assistant District Attorney Damita Sangermano. Goliad Dental Office Administrator Irma Urieta said that Benavidez actually caused Goliad Dental to lose closer to $250,000, including the nearly $100,000 cash he pocketed plus additional discounts he offered to get patients to pay cash. She said they doubt that any of the money will ever be returned to the dental office. We’re just glad it’s over, she said. He was a real con man. We’re glad he got caught. Now we’re just getting back to normal. It hasn’t been fun. According to Sangermano, the thefts occurred between Sept, 2007, and May, 2008, at a time when Benavidez was responsible for all financial operations at the dental clinic. He embezzled all cash paid by patients for dental services and encouraged cash payments from patients by offering them a substantial discount on dental services, not authorized by Dr. Barnhill, she explained. Because Billy Benavidez had access to the patient computer program, he was able to manipulate the records so that the cash payments did not appear, i.e., record them as credit card payments, change the dates, etc. He was the office manager, so no one looked beyond the obvious until a discrepancy came to light and then the entire amount was discovered when an audit was run that showed the changes he was making to conceal his thefts. Urieta said he was caught when a dental assistant checked on a patient’s record to see how the patient had been billed. When she noticed the next day that Benavidez had changed the record, backdated the payment to 2007 so it wouldn’t show up, and that the patient had paid cash, she became suspicious and showed Dr. Barnhill. Soon after, an audit was completed revealing the large sum of money missing, plus Benavidez was caught lying about going to Mexico and was found hiding in the office trying to take evidence. He had all kinds of yellow sticky notes all over the place, she said. Although he claimed he would repay the money, Benavidez was fired May 28, 2008, and police were contacted. He was arrested Oct. 6, 2008 and remained in jail until his trial began in Dec, 2009. Sangermano said that Benavidez had committed a similar crime with his wife at a New Mexico dental clinic before coming to Texas. He was serving five years of probation when he arrived here but nobody realized it. He is currently on probation in Roswell, NM for forgery and committed the same offense against Dr. Carlton Walker, a now retired dentist. He embezzled cash payments from patients in exactly the same way he committed the Rockwall County offense but, in addition, he was submitting fraudulent refund claims to the insurance companies and cashing them. The checks are the basis for the forgery charge. His wife, Rachael Benavidez, was a codefendant in the New Mexico charge and was also placed on probation for her participation in that offense. There was no evidence that his wife was involved in the Rockwall case so there are no charges pending against her, she added. Urieta said they were unaware of his record because their original background check only included Texas. After he was arrested, they paid for a nationwide background check and then learned about his previous crimes. Dr. Barnhill was not aware of his record because Benavidez told Dr. Barnhill that his previous employer could not be contacted because he had retired due to a serious illness, said Sangermano. The Assistant DA said he is currently waiting to be transferred to a Texas prison and from there is facing extradition and sentencing on a probation revocation in New Mexico. It is possible that the New Mexico sentence could be stacked on the Texas sentence which would require the defendant to serve the sentences consecutively. I believe the defendant is facing a penalty range of 1-3 years in New Mexico, she added. Sangermano said that prior to his arrest, he was indicted by a grand jury, after Rockwall police and the Rockwall County District Attorney’s office worked together collecting and reviewing case evidence, witness statements and preparing the indictment. Benavidez was living and working in Rockwall when he was arrested. Urieta said she doesn’t think he realized that Goliad Dental had contacted police and filed charges, nor that he was under investigation until he was arrested.
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From 2002 — Florida office manager accused of bilking dentist


OLDSMAR — Dr. Stephen Grote says he has spent the past 2.5 years working for nothing. But the Oldsmar dentist said he didn’t know it until August, when a trip to the ATM delivered the message “insufficient funds.”

Thus began the start of a lengthy investigation and the discovery that Denise J. Wilson, Grote’s office manager and best friend of 12 years, had embezzled more than $123,000, Pinellas County sheriff’s officials said Wednesday.

“She would write in the recorder that she was paying a check to Florida Power but she was writing it to herself,” said Grote, 53, who has practiced dentistry in Oldsmar for 20 years. “She forged my signature.”

Wilson, 48, of 6625 Fletch Road, Land O’Lakes, was charged Tuesday with grand theft, scheming to defraud and forging 87 checks. She was being held in the Pinellas County jail Wednesday night in lieu of $110,000 bail.

Wilson forged the checks between March 2000 and July 2002 and deposited the funds into a SouthTrust Bank business account for Oral Reconstructive Techniques, a dental laboratory she and her husband ran out of Grote’s office, authorities say. The largest check was for $4,000. Grote said he fired Wilson after discovering the missing money.

“She said that she didn’t have an explanation on why she committed the theft, but that once she started she could not stop,” sheriff’s Detective John Spoor said.

Spoor said Wilson would not say how she spent the money. But, Grote said, during the past two years, she and her husband, Mark Wilson, have remodeled their home, purchased three BMW motorcycles, a Chevrolet Avalanche and taken a European vacation.

Mark Wilson, who has denied knowing about the theft, told authorities he believed his wife was using money from an inheritance to pay for those luxuries. Spoor said he has referred information on Mark Wilson to the Pinellas-Pasco State Attorney’s Office, which will decide whether to file any other charges.

“At this time, the evidence that I have is all toward her because she did the stealing of the checks,” Spoor said.

Reached at home Wednesday night, Mark Wilson declined to comment.

Grote said he has since hired an accountant to review his books. He acknowledges that he failed to have adequate safeguards in place against theft: He had the same person balancing his books and writing the checks.

While the theft has not affected his dental practice, unpaid bills have ruined his credit rating and left him feeling betrayed.

“We are heartbroken for the loss of a friendship,” Grote said. “We thought it was a very sound friendship. It was a total devastation mentally.”

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Indiana dental employee gets probation must pay $142k restitution

blank Barbara J. McAlister, 64, pleaded guilty to one charge of corrupt business influence, a Class C felony, and five charges of theft, a Class D felony. She was also ordered to pay more than $142,000 in restitution. According to the probable cause affidavit, McAlister, who worked as a bookkeeper and receptionist for Spaulding Dental, pocketed cash payments for dental work and used other checks or insurance money to balance the books. Gayle Spaulding said this incident has hurt her business and her family and has consumed their lives since McAlister was arrested in October 2011. During a statement to the court, Spaulding said she felt betrayed because a former employee had committed this crime against her family’s business. “You built a trust with me, Barb, and you violated that trust,” Spaulding told the defendant. “You took complete advantage of that trust. You took that money because you could. And that saddens me.” A total of $94,535.32 is being withheld from a $100,000 cash bond McAlister posted for her son, who was arrested on charges of domestic battery and strangulation. Senior Judge Steven Fleece ordered McAlister to pay the difference – $5,464.68 – in addition to the net value of her retirement fund, which Fleece estimated was more than $42,000. McAlister apologized to the Spaulding family for everything she had put them through, especially their three children. “Those kids were like my own, and I love them,” McAlister said. Fleece also issued no-contact orders for the Spauldings and their children as well as ordered McAlister to stay away from the Spaulding Dental office. Chief Deputy Prosecutor D.J. Mote said he was satisfied with the outcome of the case. “We hope that this sends a message to all of those who would violate the trust of their employers. We take this very seriously,” he said. Content retrieved from
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Washington Woman Must Repay Dentist $101,798


Davenport resident Debra Remmers was ordered Tuesday to repay $101,798 she embezzled as the bookkeeper for a local dentist.

Lincoln County Superior Court Judge Philip Borst also tacked on $10,000 to cover attorney and accounting fees dentist Doug Teal paid to document his loss.

Borst agreed to deduct about $7,000 if Remmers can prove her claim that the money actually was used to pay Teal’s income tax.

Remmers was convicted of raiding Teal’s bank account between January 1991 and August 1993. She pleaded guilty in September to first-degree theft and was sentenced to 90 days of monitored home-confinement, 240 hours of community service and five years of probation.

Remmers previously agreed in a private contract to repay Teal his estimated total loss of $135,000.

Snow said Remmers already has paid $76,368, mostly with money from the sale of one of her two Davenport houses. She may be forced, under her agreement with Teal, to sell the second house, Snow said.

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