Arizona man sentenced to 16 years for DSO Ponzi scheme that cost victims more than $23M

Kent Maerki

A Scottsdale man was sentenced to 16 years in prison for his role in a nationwide investment fraud scheme, authorities said Monday.

Kent Maerki, 78, made misrepresentations about his businesses to solicit investments, according to court documents.

Maerki, who owned Dental Support Plus Franchise, LLC, and Janus Spectrum, LLC, cost victims more than $23 million in losses and kept about $4 million of those funds as part of a conspiracy.

He mostly targeted elderly victims who cashed out on their 401(k) retirement plans and other retirement accounts to invest in companies founded by Maerki.

Their money was then being transferred to other companies controlled by other members of the conspiracy, according to court documents.

“This defendant made millions of dollars by deceiving innocent investors and perpetuating a scheme that defrauded vulnerable victims out of their hard-earned retirement funds,” Raj Parekh, acting U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, said in a press release.

“Today’s sentence sends a strong message that anyone in the financial services industry who lies, manipulates and steals their way to success acts at their own peril and risks substantial jail time if they do not operate their practices truthfully and with integrity.”

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AZ woman embezzles from dentist AND local football league


Karen Schrank, 36, Payson, pleaded guilty to a theft charge for embezzling more than $35,000 from a local dentist’s office and between $250 and $1,000 from the Payson Youth Football League.

Schrank entered into a plea agreement and was sentenced on June 28 to a term of 130 days in jail and five years of probation. The agreement stipulates that she must repay her former employer the money she took over a period of four years while employed as the officer manager and pay restitution to the football league in the amount of $595.

According to Deputy Gila County Attorney Patti Wortman, Schrank was originally indicted by a grand jury in January on two counts of theft and one count of fraudulent schemes. Schrank was offered the plea agreement with the sole charge of theft.

“We requested 130 days in jail with 30 up front with the rest deferred and five years of probation and restitution,” she said.

According to police documents, Sharon Mattern, owner of Desert Dentistry, noticed a discrepancy between her profit and deposit amounts. A detailed audit revealed that cash deposits were missing from the Payson office.

The audit showed that between 2000 and 2003, Schrank was pocketing up to $1,000 per month at times from the office income. The estimated total was $35,650.

Wortman said Schrank was involved in youth football, but did not know when or how she took money from the organization.

The matter was handed over to the Payson Police Department and investigated by Payson Police Det. Steve Johnson.

According to Johnson, Schrank initially denied taking the money but as the interview went on, she eventually confessed to the theft. Johnson also recalled that Schrank used the extra money to support her children and not for any luxury items.

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Arizona consultant accused of scamming dentists

brad-bowsherPolice and former partners are accusing a Green Valley businessman of stealing the identities of dentists and of cheating dental patients.

Brad Alan Bowsher, 46, CEO of Infinity Dental Systems, has been in the Pima County jail for about seven weeks. He is charged with five felonies, including aggravated identity theft, theft and fraud. He has pleaded not guilty, and attempts to interview him in jail were unsuccessful.

Bowsher could face additional charges, depending on the outcome of an additional investigation by Pima County Sheriff’s Department.

Bowsher was a consultant who would set up dental offices and sell the practices to dentists, but court records and police reports describe him forging the signatures of his dentists and patients to obtain money for an extravagant lifestyle.

While Bowsher was the manager at Marana Dental Care, 13455 N. Lon Adams Road, from August 2004 to January 2005, he made unapproved charges on business accounts and opened credit cards using the identity of owner and dentist Mike Fair, according to an indictment against him in Pima County Superior Court. He also used Fair’s check routing number to write and cash fraudulent checks for $183,739, according to court and police records.

His spending caused the business’s payroll checks to bounce, an office manager later told the police. Invoices showed he bought jewelry and trips and a golf club membership, among other things, according to the Marana Police Department report.

Some of the checks showed the name Logan Dental in Ohio with the Marana Dental Care routing number. Bowsher also has been arrested on a fugitive warrant out of Logan County, Ohio, and is charged there with suspicion of theft and misuse of a credit card. The victim in that case in another dentist he worked for, according to the Marana police report.

While working in Marana, Bowsher also took out a U.S. Small Business Administration loan for $544,100. Bowsher has had other financial troubles, including a bankruptcy in Texas in 2002.

Fair figured out what was going on after he started receiving calls from banks and creditors, he told the police. He fired Bowsher, who told Fair that “he has a disease that he can’t help himself from borrowing other people’s money,” according to the police report.

Bowsher told the police Fair was spending just as recklessly and said the two were trying to open another Northwest Side office and a Rita Ranch office, but “we were way outpacing what he could actually come through with financing, and it just blew up in our face,” according to the police report.

Fair went through bankruptcy and currently has an investigation pending with the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners, records show.

Knew something was wrong

Then in 2005, Bowsher opened Sahuarita Dental Care, 75 W. Calle De Las Tiendas, and things were apparently rocky from the start. The office wasn’t registered with the Arizona State Board of Dental Examiners, which is an annual requirement for dental offices.

Kim Rusk was hired by Bowsher to be an office manager. She said in an interview that she worked there for about two months and left because she wasn’t getting paid.

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“It was a little crazy at first, trying to get everything going, but it started to smooth out,” Rusk said. “Toward the end of my time there I knew there was something wrong.”

Rusk said she started getting calls from lenders and banks who wanted to verify that the doctors worked there. She thought that was fishy because they weren’t buying anything that would require a loan, she said.

Dentist Terence Fowler realized what was going on only when a dental supply company sued him for breach of contract, Fowler said in his response to the lawsuit. Fowler claims Bowsher forged his name on a contract for around $86,000 worth of equipment, according to court records.

Fowler, who retired to Green Valley and practiced dentistry part-time at Sahuarita Dental Care, later learned his name also had been forged on a credit card and a KGUN television advertising contract, he said in court records.

Patient reports $7,000 loss

Rusk, the former office manager, said she still hasn’t received the $8,800 she earned while working at Sahuarita Dental Care, even after she took Bowsher to court over it.

In court documents, Bow-sher said her claims are “ridiculous and unfounded.”

“I am a very hardworking, honest small-business owner,” he wrote. He attached a bank statement that shows his account was $5,161 in the red last June, with numerous overdraft fees and return check fees.

Rusk also said Bowsher was offering patients a discount for paying up front in full. He told them he would bill their insurance and reimburse them later.

One patient, Gordon Green, said in court records his name was forged on a line of credit to finance his dental work at the office.

Some clients never got their money back.

“Brad said if we paid ahead we would receive a discount, so we did,” said Mary Schmidt, a Green Valley resident whose daughters went to the office for braces. “The amount of loss is more than $7,000.”

She filed a police report after the office closed.

“That somebody could knowingly take somebody else’s hard-earned money like that sickens me,” Schmidt said. Bowsher “was so nice to all the kids. He gave my daughter a birthday card with a one-dollar bill in it. I guess I got $1 back out of $7,000.”

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Arizona woman arrested for embezzlement

Delisha Kitts

COTTONWOOD — A 29-year-old Cottonwood woman was arrested Monday and charged with skimming proceeds from her employer.

Delisha Lynette Kitts, was arrested and charged with fraud schemes, theft, and forgery after it was alleged she was stealing cash transactions of over $3,500 from her employer, Dr. Bruce Westover DDS.

The officer claimed that Kitts, who worked the front desk, would take the cash transactions, alter the computer record showing the patient had a credit, or delete the transaction completely.

When interviewed, Kitts denied the $3,500 but allegedly admitted to taking a one-time cash payment of $400. Kitts told officers she did this to “help the patient out.” Kitts was booked into the Yavapai County Jail.

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Editor’s note:

A search of our database reveals that Ms. Kitts has several theft convictions from 2003.  It is important to check criminal records before hiring!




Goddard Announces Arizona Dental Office Manager Given Prison Term for Insurance Fraud


Attorney General Terry Goddard today announced that Kathy Salazar, 51, who worked as a dental office manager in St. Johns, has been sentenced in Apache County Superior Court to one year in prison for insurance fraud, a class 6 felony. She also will serve seven years of probation for theft, a class 2 felony.

Salazar pleaded guilty to submitting false insurance claims for dental procedures that were never performed and then pocketing the insurance checks.

Judge Michael Roca also ordered her to pay a $5,000 fine and $88,408 in restitution to Dr. Howard Lee of St. Johns.  Salazar worked in his office for 28 years as a dental assistant and office manager. She lived in St. Johns before recently moving to Mesa.

Salazar’s scheme was uncovered during a routine audit performed by Delta Dental which showed irregularities in submitted claims.

This case was investigated by the Arizona Department of Insurance Fraud Unit and prosecuted by Assistant Attorney General Beverly Rudnick.

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See Salazar’s indictment here: 

Arizona Community College Dental Clinic embezzled


As part of its responsibility to prevent and detect fraud, the Mohave County Community College District (District) administrators took appropriate action by reporting a fraud allegation to our Office. Consequently we conducted an investigation revealing that from October 2012 to April 2013, Trisha Moon, former district clerk at the Dental Hygiene Clinic (dental clinic), may have violated state laws related to theft, misuse of public monies, fraudulent schemes, and computer tampering when she embezzled $1,849 of district dental clinic cash payments.

Specifically, Ms. Moon took for herself 46 cash payments made by dental clinic patients that should have been deposited in district accounts for the benefit of the dental clinic and its students. Ms. Moon was able to conceal her actions because she took advantage of the District’s inadequate controls over collecting, recording, and depositing dental clinic monies and manipulated the dental clinic’s computer program information and deposit records without being detected. On June 24, 2016, the Mohave County Attorney’s Office filed a criminal complaint with the Bullhead City Justice Court, alleging that Ms. Moon committed theft, misuse of public monies, fraudulent schemes, and computer tampering against the District.

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