California man racks up $80,000 bill at dentist’s office and pays with bad check

A Newport Beach man, who has been in and out of prison over the past 20 years for fraud-related convictions, Monday admitted kiting several checks totaling more than $200,000 and was immediately sentenced to seven years in prison.

Richard Scott Bloustine, 50, pleaded guilty to five counts of grand theft, 10 counts of writing bad checks and taking a car without permission, said Senior Deputy District Attorney Marc Labreche.

Bloustine racked up an $80,000 bill at a dentist’s office in Newport Beach from Nov. 10 to Dec. 13, 2014, and wrote a bad check for $72,000, Labreche said.

On Nov. 13, 2014, Bloustine kited a check for $32,000 as he tried to lease a home in Newport Beach, Labreche said. He then wrote another bad check — this time for $13,000 — for furniture in the home, the prosecutor said.

Bloustine also wrote a $15,000 bad check in December of 2014 as a down- payment for a Mercedes-Benz at a Laguna Beach dealership, Labreche said.

After publicity about his arrest in July of last year, investigators found another dentist who was taken for about $80,000, Labreche said.

His criminal history dates back three decades and ranges from “Hawaii to Massachusetts and all points between,” Labreche said.

In 1996, Bloustine was convicted of credit card fraud in Hawaii, Labreche said, and three years later was found guilty of a fraud scheme in Arizona.

In 2004, he was convicted of grand theft, and in 2008, he was convicted again of grand theft and credit card fraud, Labreche said. Both of those cases were in Santa Barbara County, the prosecutor said.

In the current case, Bloustine accepted a plea deal from Orange County Superior Court Judge Gregory Jones.

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California Woman Convicted of Embezzling $365k from Santa Barbara Employer — 5 Year Prison Sentence

Officials say Kim Herman manipulated the records system to cover up third-party checks she wrote over seven years totaling $365,000

A woman convicted of embezzling $365,000 from her Santa Barbara employer was sentenced to five years in prison on Friday by Santa Barbara County Superior Court Judge Clifford Anderson.

Kim Herman, 52, pleaded no contest to grand theft by embezzlement with a special allegation of excessive loss — more than $200,000. She worked for local prosthetic and cosmetic dentist Dr. Marc Alexander for nine years, and bank records show she stole money from him during seven of those years, according to Senior Deputy District Attorney Brian Cota.

Alexander and his office manager were alerted to the thefts when Herman’s bank called to question her deposits of third-party checks in March 2010. Cota said she had found a way to manipulate the dentist office’s record system to bypass security and alter financial records so that accounts never showed a deficit, then wrote checks to herself totaling about $4,000 a month.

Cota said such long-term embezzlement cases are often prompted by opportunity, not necessity, and the District Attorney’s Office is taking a strong stance with cases in which the person is in a position of trust. Herman essentially doubled her income to live beyond her means, according to Cota.

Judge Anderson ordered Herman to pay $365,000 in restitution, but Alexander may never see it. Cota said the ruling will get transferred to a civil judgment so she could owe some money if she gets a well-paying job, but there are no assets to seize — the debt on her house is more than it’s worth because of the market.

Cota said he is seeing more and more embezzlement cases in which the perpetrator is in a position of trust — employees, family members and elder abuse cases — and advises everyone to have two sets of eyes looking over all financial transactions.

In court Friday morning, Alexander explained how Herman had joined his private practice in 2002, soon after he started it.

“She seemed to be a model employee, working hard, appearing to be loyal and staying late with me while I worked hard, long hours to make the practice flourish,” Alexander said.

He said he was bewildered over why the business wasn’t making a decent profit margin, and he had to borrow money every year to meet his tax burden. But he trusted her like a family member.

“Now at 52, I am still in debt, without any retirement fund and no college fund for my three children,” Alexander said.

At his Coast Village Road office, he and his office manager have cleaned up the records system and now would notice if even a dime went missing, but “the damage is done.”

Alexander said he has no feelings of joy or closure knowing Herman is going to prison and can’t believe she was “so deliberate and so calculating for so many years.”

Herman will serve half-time and will be eligible to be released after 2½ years.

“What this woman has done has and will have an everlasting effect on my life, family, work and retirement years,” Alexander said.

Herman’s attorney, Adam Pearlman, asked the judge for the lowest term of sentencing since she admitted guilt early on, but Cota’s arguments won out. Herman tried to minimize her crime and only admitted guilt when “she knew her scheme was discovered,” he said.

Anderson did delay the sentence for two months because Herman’s daughter is recovering from a hand transplant at UCLA Medical Center, and nurses there asked for Herman’s presence and support.


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California dental receptionist sentenced for embezzlement

holly ann keateA former office manager is in jail for drilling more than $47,000 out of a Roseville dentist’s business accounts. Holly Ann Keate, 24, of Rocklin, was sentenced Nov. 12 to one year in Placer County Jail for embezzling $47,431 from Roseville dentist Dr. Thomas Schlehofer. Keate reportedly siphoned away the money for her own personal use between Aug. 25, 2008 and Jan. 22, according to Art Campos, Placer County District Attorney’s Office spokesman. In April, Roseville police arrested Keate just before she was to board a flight from Sacramento to Hawaii for a vacation.
The former office manager pleaded no contest to a grand theft by embezzlement charge in September, Campos said Wednesday. Schlehofer, who owns Sierra Gate Family Dental, told Judge Colleen Nichols in a letter that Keate had deceived people and abused her position as a manager. Keate reportedly pocketed cash payments from patients during her tenure at the office. It wasn’t until she quit several months prior to her Hawaiian vacation that office staff discovered the theft, according to earlier reports about Keate’s arrest. Keate used the money to take vacations and have laser treatment and elective plastic surgery, Campos said. Schlehofer told the judge that the more than $47,000 Keate took meant coworkers could not receive bonuses and the office could not donate money to its sponsored charities, including an orphanage, Campos said.
The dentist said that ultimately, Keate’s actions and theft “nearly collapsed the office.” “She has abused her managerial position with malicious neglect of patients, their personal files, their credit cards and their cash,” Schlehofer wrote. “She preyed on the senior citizens of our community knowing they did not have insurance and would pay cash.” Keate was ordered to repay the dentist and will also be placed on five years probation as part of her sentence. ~ Jenifer Gee

Embezzles $1.6 million from California dental office — sentenced to 8 years in prison

waffordVicki Wafford

Bookkeeper Victoria “Vicki” Lee Wafford embezzled $1.6 million from the Oceanside dental office where she worked, and gambled it away, authorities said.

Wafford, who was 50 when she was arrested, spent most of the money she stole on luxuries, trips and gambling while her employer and co-workers suffered, Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn said.

Wafford’s attorney said his client’s actions were driven by a prescription drug addiction.

Wafford wrote more than 1,000 checks from the dentist’s account to herself and credit card companies from 2001 to 2008, Winn said.

In the accounting books, however, Wafford listed the payees as dental suppliers and other vendors, according to court documents.

The theft came to light in the summer of 2008, when the dentist launched an extensive audit of the books to get personal loans to cover business expenses.

Federal agents seized everything of worth at Wafford’s Temecula home, including a power boat, multiple sets of golf clubs, a Lexus, a newer Toyota Tundra and about $1,000 in coins, Winn said. She was sentenced to eight years in prison.

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California Dental Office Manager Gets Jail Term for Insurance Fraud

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Palo Alto dental office manager gets jail term for insurance fraud

Posted:   11/16/2013 12:54:30 PM PST | Updated:   3 years ago
PALO ALTO — A Palo Alto dental office manager who forged a dentist’s name on her family’s insurance claim was sentenced to 45 days in county jail this week, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s office announced Friday.
 Superior Court Judge Shelyna Brown also gave Veronica Rivas, 39, of Fremont, three years of probation and ordered her to pay $3,223.50 in restitution, according to a District Attorney’s Office news release. Rivas had been convicted of faking an insurance claim and taking the money.

“It may be tempting to try and cash out ‘unused’ insurance benefits,” deputy district attorney Denise Raabe said in a written statement. “But it is a crime to submit false insurance claims for procedures which were never performed. Insurance fraud impacts everyone by causing insurance rates to go up.”

According to prosecutors, Rivas submitted fraudulent insurance claims in early 2009 to a dental insurance provider to cover orthodontic treatments for her husband and son, who never received them.

Rivas forged a dentist’s signature on the patient refund check that was payable to her husband, according to the district attorney’s office. But the dentist discovered the fraud and reported it to Palo Alto police.

Content retrieved from: Palo Alto dental office manager gets jail term for insurance fraud – San Jose Mercury News

California Office Manager Guilty of Stealing More Than $100,000 — Sentenced to Two Years in Jail

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A former office manager for Orange County dentists will spend two years in jail after she pleaded guilty this week to charges that she embezzled more than $100,000 in insurance payments.

Deborah Lynn Kessler, 45, was accused of signing the payments over to her personal bank accounts over the course of about three years. Investigators initially said she may have used the money to pay for an RV, boats and trips, and to cover her personal bills. Her attorney disputed that.

Kessler pleased guilty on Thursday to four counts of grand theft, court records show. She was sentenced to two years in jail and two more years of community supervision. She was also banned from working in dental offices, Deputy District Attorney Nikki Chambers said.

“She’s remorseful,” said Kessler’s attorney, Mitchell Hannah. “And her focus now is on restitution.”

Hannah blamed “hard economic times” for the theft. He said Kessler took small amounts that added up over time. He disputed early reports from the Sheriff’s Department that Kessler may have used the money to buy an RV or make other big purchases.

Kessler was arrested in July at her Canyon Lake home. She was on the phone applying for a job with a San Clemente dentist when deputies arrived, a Sheriff’s spokesman said at the time.

The case against Kessler started earlier this year when a new dentist took over the Ladera Ranch dental office where she had worked for three years. The new owner began to notice discrepancies in the office finances, investigators said.

The new and former office owners took a closer look and found insurance checks missing, a Sheriff’s spokesman said. Investigators believe Kessler changed them, endorsed them and then deposited them into her own accounts.

She stopped showing up for work in June, days after her employers contacted the sheriff’s economic-crimes unit.

Date of Birth: XX-XX-XXXX Next Appearance Date: 10-03-2012
Sex: Female Next Appearance Court: CENTRAL SUPERIOR COURT
Race: White Custody Status: In Custody
Height: 5′ 07″ Bail Amount: $0.00
Weight: 140 Arrested on: 10-01-2012
Hair Color: Brown Housing Location: Central Womens Jail
Eye Color:   Green  

California Dental Office Manager Guilty of Embezzlement

Amanda Boling Mugshot

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Posted Mar. 2, 2012 at 12:01 AM

STOCKTON – A former dental office manager has pleaded guilty to embezzling from her former employer, Kevin Fleming, a Lodi dentist.

Amanda Marie Boling, 31, admitted to taking more than $65,000 from Fleming, said Deputy District Attorney Stephen Taylor. But the actual loss was about $137,000, Taylor said.

Boling was a trusted employee with 12 years at Fleming’s practice. Through a financial audit, the dentist found Boling was paying herself unauthorized money and labeling them “bonuses,” “overtime” and “reimbursements” in the accounting system, Taylor said.

Boling is scheduled to be sentenced May 11, the same day she will learn how much restitution she must pay.

The maximum sentence Boling could face is three years for the theft, plus one more year for an amount over $65,000. Under California’s new “realignment” sentencing laws, Boling’s sentence may be a combination of jail time, community service and probation. Any incarceration would be in San Joaquin County Jail.

“The District Attorney urges local businesses and professions to get insurance against employee theft, to rotate job duties frequently, and to review budgets and accounting totals and transactions at random – watching for ratios changing, or ratios running high or numbers that seem off,” Taylor said.

California Dental Assistant Sentenced 3 Years for Stealing $203,000

Woman arrested on suspicion of embezzling from dentist

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Posted: Friday, June 24, 2011 12:00 am

A Biggs woman was sentenced Friday to three years in prison for embezzling $203,000 while working as an office manager for a Yuba City dentist, according to the Sutter County District Attorney’s Office.

Tiffany Lynae Lovell, 31, used money stolen between 2005 and 2010 to buy jewelry, electronics and clothing, some of which she gave to family and friends, according to a Sutter County Probation Department report.

Lovell is also suspected of spending some of the money for cosmetic surgery, including breast augmentation, the report said.

Lovell worked for dentist Michael A. Passaglia. The embezzlement included charging personal items on a company credit card and altering time sheets to collect money for days she did not work.

Superior Court Judge Chris Chandler gave Lovell the mid-term sentence of two years for embezzlement, plus another year for stealing more than $65,000, said Assistant District Attorney Jana McClung.

When she came under suspicion, Lovell “cleaned out” office computers to erase records of her theft, McClung said.

According to the report, the theft ended up costing Passaglia $338,838, including the cost of an investigation.

Passaglia declined comment when Lovell was charged last year. In a letter to the court, he said Lovell, who had no prior criminal record, should go to prison instead of receiving probation.

“During the entire time Miss Lovell worked for me, I was aware that she was a high maintenance employee, but due to how hard she seemed to work and her Oscar winning performances on how much she did for this office, I believed her and put up with the daily drama in the office between her and other employees,” Passaglia wrote.

According to Passaglia, Lovell was suspected of embezzling from a prior dentist, but he did not check before hiring her.

In interviews with authorities, Lovell blamed the thefts on being abused by her father as a child and on subsequent mistreatment by other men.

Passaglia wrote in the letter that she filed a sexual harassment lawsuit against him to pressure him into dropping charges.

Deputy Probation Officer Amy Arndt wrote in the report that Lovell has “made strides” in counseling since her arrest, but still accepts only partial responsibility.

Starting in November, Lovell began receiving $2,560 per month in disability payments, according to the report.

Passaglia wrote that if he ever turned to a life of crime, he would want Lovell as his partner.

“With her devious abilities, we would make Bonnie and Clyde look like rank amateurs,” he wrote.

Benicia CA dentist, victim of embezzlement, hopes to help others avoid same fate

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A Benicia dentist whose employee embezzled both cash and checks from his office for more than a year is sharing his experience in hopes of preventing other business owners and their clients from being victimized.Dr. Scott Swoboda said the embezzlement probably went on for about 18 months before he realized something was wrong.

It wasn’t until one of his patients asked about a discrepancy in a bill in October 2012 that Swoboda began suspecting his employee, Patricia Jennings Gadson, of wrongdoing.

He said she was telling those clients who paid by check to leave the “payable” line blank so she could mark it with the office stamp.

One problem, Swoboda said: There was no such stamp.

Instead, he said, the woman would write her own name in the line, and later cash the check.

She apparently was taking all cash payments, too, he said.

“I didn’t know what to do,” Swoboda said, so he called Benicia police. After hearing the dentist’s concerns, a detective suggested the two of them confront the woman together.

The matter was settled this week when Gadson agreed to a plea bargain that convicted her of felony forgery. She received a 90-day sentence.

She also has been ordered to pay full restitution, though Swoboda said he is able to document only about $3,000 of his losses so far.

“All I wanted was a felony conviction, which is what I got,” he said. “Anything else is bonus.”

While he said it would be nice to get some of his money back, “I wanted her to pay for what she did,” as well as be unable to continue to work in dental practice elsewhere.

He said dental offices are a prime target for embezzlers, who often get away with the crime because dentists don’t want to prosecute. “They’d rather move on,” he said. “I wouldn’t let her get away with it, so she couldn’t do this to anybody else.”

Swoboda said he is telling his story not as revenge, but to warn other business offices about signs they, too, may be embezzlement victims.

He said the Benicia police detective told him that it isn’t uncommon for an embezzler to take money from a company for 18 months before being discovered.

Swoboda shared some indicators that such stealing is taking place, in hopes of helping other business owners recognize the situation more quickly.

He said an embezzling employee appears to be a hard worker, often wanting to work overtime and when the office is closed.

“The kind of person who embezzles is the person who tries to work by themselves,” he said. “They don’t want anyone learning or doing their job.”

As he recalls how his own office worker behaved, he said, “She wanted to work off times when there was no one in the office.”

He also called her “a pot stirrer, and always on my good side. She would pit employees against others and against me, maybe to get them fired.”

Another tipoff, he said, should be if the office doesn’t seem to be getting any cash payments. Normally, a dental office gets at least 5 percent of its payments in cash; Swoboda’s wasn’t getting any.

“I blamed the down economy, but she took that cash,” he said. He learned about that through his patients, too, he said.

“And none of the books made sense,” he added. Gadson apparently falsified accounts. “I have been trying to fix it ever since.”

Two factors made Swoboda’s office vulnerable to embezzlement, he said. First, he hadn’t been scrutinizing the financial books himself, leaving that job to others. “I wasn’t reviewing the accounts receivable and payable,” he said. “She took advantage of that and exploited it.”

In addition, Swoboda didn’t think it could happen to him. “That’s another thing I learned. A person can get embezzled when they don’t think or are not aware you can be.” But that’s when it’s more likely to happen, he said.

Swoboda, who is known for raising money for breast cancer research through competing in 2011 in a South Bay half-ironman triathlon, has dealt with adversity before, such as when his wife received her cancer diagnosis.

Just as he used that news as motivation to do something positive, he’s striving to do the same with this situation.

“Why let one bad egg ruin it for everybody?” he said. “This is a lesson learned.”

California Bookkeeper Pleads no Contest to Third Embezzlement Charge in Four Years

Jasmine Delafuente

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Dental bookkeeper convicted for embezzlement

Daily Journal Staff Report

A former bookkeeper accused of stealing $70,000 from a Redwood City dentist shortly after being fired by a different dentist for embezzlement must spend two years in county jail and repay the stolen money.

Jasmine Delafuente, 31, actually received a four-year prison term after pleading no contest to felony embezzlement and admitting she took more than $65,000. However, under the new state inmate realignment rules, Delafuente will spend two years in the county jail followed by two years on mandatory supervision. She must also pay $70,161.54 to her former employer.

Delafuente has credit of 604 days against the term earned while in custody on $100,000 bail and a no-bail hold for allegedly violating probation in the previous embezzlement case by being arrested again.

Between March 2009 and August 2010, prosecutors said Delafuente took the cash paid by patients and deleted proof of payment from office records.

Delafuente urged patients to pay in cash, according to prosecutors who said she particularly took advantage of Spanish-speaking patients.

Just prior to working for the office, Delafuente had been fired in February 2009 for stealing $6,793 through the same means. Delafuente was prosecuted and convicted of felony embezzlement in August 2010, settling a case that had been pending in court through most of the time she was working for her second alleged victim.

She was sentenced to 60 days jail and felony probation for the first case.

On top of her new jail term, Delafuente also received a concurrent sentence for the probation violation.

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Update — She’s at it again…

A bookkeeper accused of stealing $3,200 from an East Palo Alto dental office while on probation for ripping off two Redwood City dental offices pleaded no contest Tuesday to a felony embezzlement charge.

 Jasmine Delafuente, 32, skimmed $3,200 from deposits she took to the bank for her employer, 6 to 9 Dental on East Bayshore Road, according to the San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office. The thefts occurred last year from June 29 to July 19 and she was arrested on Aug. 30.
Although she pleaded not guilty in September to an embezzlement charge, Delafuente made a deal with prosecutors and switched her plea to no contest.
In exchange, she’ll receive a maximum prison sentence of three years and eight months, according to the district attorney’s office. She is scheduled to be sentenced on March 1.
Delafuente has been arrested on embezzlement charges a total of three times in four years.
In February 2009, Delafuente was fired from her bookkeeping job with a Redwood City dental office for stealing $6,973.
Delafuente subsequently was sentenced to 60 days in jail and probation in that case, but in the meantime she was hired by another Redwood City dentist and stole $70,000 from that office between 2009 and 2010.

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