Audit: University of Iowa Dental College Staffer Misspent $57,000


IOWA CITY — The University of Iowa has shored up its training and procurement practices after discovering a College of Dentistry administrative specialist amassed $57,313 in improper and unsupported spending on things like bath bombs, essential oils, luggage, iPad and camera equipment, and a canning system.

The Iowa State Auditor’s Office began investigating spending in the college’s Department of Periodontics for the period between Aug. 1, 2012 and Aug. 31, 2016 after UI officials flagged potential improper transactions, according to a report made public Thursday.

The suspect spending involved Amanda Shumaker, hired as the department’s administrative specialist on Aug. 27, 2012. Among her responsibilities, Shumaker bought the college’s books and supplies and arranged travel for staff. She had access to a university procurement card with a spending limit of $10,000 a month and a director Pcard capped at $4,000 a month, according to the audit.

Amid tightening budgets and Board of Regents demands its campuses run more efficiently, UI in 2015 developed a new Shared Services Department focused on trimming administrative costs, minimizing redundancies, improving policy compliance, and reducing errors. That department assigned staff to specific colleges, including the College of Dentistry in June 2016.

During a routine review of purchases in July 2016, Shared Services flagged a mismatch in what Shumaker said she bought and what the vendors said she got. Specifically, Shumaker reported purchasing textbooks but actually bought clothes, according to the audit.

Investigators suspect Shumaker had been doctoring documents to hide her personal use of university money for years.

UI placed her on administrative leave Aug. 1, 2016, and she died at age 34 on Aug. 20, 2016, according to the Scott County Medical Examiner’s Office. No criminal charges were filed against Shumaker before her death, according to online court records.

Based on personal purchases investigators believe Shumaker made in June and July 2016, the university withheld from her payroll and vacation payout $11,246.77. Shumaker’s family after her death launched a GoFundMe page for her three young children’s education. It has raised more than $5,000.

In breaking down the auditor findings, Shumaker is accused of making $52,897.26 improper disbursements and another $4,416.10 unsupported payments, meaning investigators couldn’t determine whether the charges were for personal use or department operations.

Throughout the report, auditors note misspending could have been higher — but verifying documentation didn’t always exist.

Shumaker’s improper purchases included $38,473.86 on Amazon for things like a “premium series” bed pillow, manicure and pedicure sets, kitchen utility spatula set, and gift cards to Starbucks, Nordstrom Rack, and Sur La Table; $5,202.50 on things like a Samsung Nook, magazine subscriptions, books on yoga and beer brewing, and journals from Barnes & Noble; and $9,220.90 on things like iPad accessories and essential oils from vendors like Plant Therapy.

Auditors, in their review, found the university could have done more to prevent the misspending — noting department officials did not always review claims closely. Had they, according to the audit, they would have found repeat purchases of the same book for the same doctor or library; mathematically inaccurate invoices; and other flags of suspicious spending.

Among the state’s recommendations is implementing procedures ensuring sufficient purchase documentation or explanation, allowing thorough supervisor reviews.

“Given the number of documents altered by Ms. Shumaker, the university should require original supporting documentation scanned into the university accounting system be retained for a year,” according to the audit.

Auditors also suggested the university establish and maintain inventory records to ensure proper insurance coverage and safeguard property; conduct periodical equipment inventory checks; and implement procedures to ensure the university disposes of equipment properly — including equipment kept in employee homes.

UI officials in response to Thursday’s audit release — which comes as the campus grapples with state funding cuts that have prompted a tuition hike, pay freeze, construction moratorium, center closures, and layoffs — reported the university ramped up training in budget review and oversight for all department chairs “immediately following the discovery of the unauthorized purchases.”

“The University of Iowa takes seriously its fiduciary responsibility to spend taxpayer and research dollars wisely and has several procedures in place to ensure this happens,” UI spokesman Anne Bassett said in a statement.

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Iowa woman embezzled from 2005 to 2014 — sentenced to 41 months in prison, ordered to pay $491k in restitution

Pamela Sue Harris

A former office manager of a small dental practice in Mason City, Iowa, who stole nearly $500,000 from her employer over the course of almost a decade, was sentenced yesterday in federal court in Cedar Rapids.

Pamela Harris, age 58, from Mason City, Iowa, was convicted of Wire Fraud. In a plea agreement, Harris admitted she was a trusted employee of the dental practice for approximately 21 years, from about 1993 until 2014. During this time, she had sole responsibility for the practice’s day-to-day finances. She was fired in 2014 after her fraud was discovered.

The two dentists that formed the practice authorized the creation of rubber stamps bearing their signatures to pay for legitimate expenses. However, the dentists always required Harris to obtain authorization before using the rubber stamps on a check to pay a bill. At no time did the dentists authorize Harris to create checks and use their rubber signature stamps to pay for her personal expenses without their knowledge.

From at least July 2005, and continuing through about May 2014, Harris defrauded the dentists and their practice. Harris used the rubber signature stamps of the dentists without their authorization to create forged checks drawn on the practice’s bank account. Harris forged checks made payable either to herself or to others, including credit card companies to pay for Harris’ personal expenses. Harris also maintained and used various credit card accounts she had opened in the name of the dental practice to pay for personal expenses without the authorization of the dentists.

For example, Harris admitted that, in May 2012, she forged a check bearing the signatures of the dentists to pay for a $4,000 white plastic fence at her home. In total, Harris admitted to stealing at least $491,254.86 from the dentists and their practice.

Harris was sentenced in Cedar Rapids by United States District Court Judge Linda R. Reade. At the sentencing hearing, Judge Reade found Harris’s crime was “a very serious offense” and stressed a number of aggravating factors, including that Harris’s scheme was sophisticated and caused the dentists such a substantial financial hardship that they needed to take out lines of credit. Judge Reade found defendant had “spit in the eye” of her employers. During the hearing, Judge Reade also noted that Harris, through a civil attorney, had offered to repay approximately $100,000 of the stolen money, but only if the dentists would give Harris a good letter of recommendation for another job. The evidence at the hearing showed that the civil attorney wrote a letter stating, “this probably sounds outrageous to ask for a letter but if your client’s [sic] want more money, I think this is the only way.” The dentists declined the offer.

Harris was sentenced to 41 months’ imprisonment. A special assessment of $100 was imposed, and she was ordered to make $491,254.86 in restitution to the dentists. With respect to restitution, Harris will be given credit for approximately $150,000 that she deposited with the Clerk of Court before the conclusion of her sentencing hearing. She must also serve a three-year term of supervised release after the prison term. There is no parole in the federal system.

Harris was released on the bond previously set and is to surrender to the United States Marshal on May 8, 2017, at 10 a.m., in Cedar Rapids, pending her designation to a Bureau of Prisons facility.

The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Vavricek and investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Mason City Police Department.

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Iowa woman steals $80k, gets suspended sentence and probation

kiki sue jutting

MASON CITY – A Mason City woman charged with stealing more than $80,000 from her employer was sentenced Monday to a suspended prison term and probation.

Judge James Drew sentenced Kiki Sue Jutting, 35, to up to 10 years in prison which was suspended. She was also ordered to serve five years of probation and complete 200 hours of community service.

Jutting pleaded guilty to a charge of first-degree theft.

 A fine of $1,000 was suspended.

Jutting was accused of stealing $80,026.04 from Central Park Dentistry, owned by Drs. Jay Lala and Matt Hansen in Mason City. She agreed to restitution in that amount. Jutting liquidated a retirement account worth $25,800 which will be applied towards the restitution.

The dental practice’s insurance carrier reimbursed the firm for $65,000.

The balance of the funds will be used to pay fines, court costs and $660 in court-appointed attorney fees.

The defense had asked for a deferred judgment and suspended sentence.

“A deferred judgment in this case is not appropriate,” said Drew. He said the theft was not a “heat of the moment” crime adding that she had time to reflect on her actions before stealing the money.

“This is a huge theft by any standard.” Drew said.

 The judge said the public may view the sentence as a “slap on the wrist.”

“However, walking out of the courtroom as a convicted felon is no small matter,” Drew said.

Lorrie Lala, wife of Dr. Jay Lala, told the court that Jutting’s actions cost the dental practice lost income beyond the money she stole from the practice during her time as business manager.

Lala said the theft left the remaining employees with “shock, anger and sadness.” One employee was so upset the individual needed to attend counseling.

The practice’s insurance premiums have also been increased, Lala said.

“We are tired of paying for someone else’s poor judgment and lack of moral compass,” she told the court.

Jutting could be sued by the insurance company to recover the money it paid out in the settlement.

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Convicted dental office thief picked up for OWI

This news story was published on April 23, 2013.

MASON CITY – A Mason City woman – and convicted felon – was picked up for operating while intoxicated this weekend. Kiki Sue Jutting, 36, was stopped by a Cerro Gordo County Sheriff’s Deputy at 9:05 PM Saturday near Lark Avenue and 265th Street.  Records are currently incomplete as to when Jutting’s court date is set for. Jutting was convicted in 2011 of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from her employer, Dr. Jay Lala.  Records show she payed $26,098.31 in court costs and restitution. Jutting was also convicted last September of providing false information to Mason City police.

Michelle Lynne Allen of Iowa accused of embezzling $173,000



Embezzlement Investigation

Department: Police Department
Date: 03/01/11

On 12-13-10 the Marshalltown Police Department began an investigation into the embezzlement of monies by a former employee of the Plaza Family Dental Practice in Marshalltown.

The ensuing investigation has revealed that Michelle Lynne Allen had misappropriated $173,552.02 while in the position of Office Manager with the dental practice from 2006 to 2010.

Michelle Lynn Allen was arrested by the Marshalltown Police Department on February 22nd 2011 and charged with the following:

1. 1- Count of Ongoing Criminal Conduct – Class”B” Felony

2. 2- Counts of Theft 1st Degree – Class”C” Felony

3. 3- Counts of Forgery – Class “D” Felony

4. 1- Count of Identity Theft – Class “D”Felony

Michelle Lynne Allen 38 yrs old of Marshalltown, Iowa made her Initial Appearance in court on 02-22-11 and was released under the supervision of the Department of Corrections.

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