Bookkeeper who bilked Arkansas doctors of $600,000 gets 45 months in prison

A federal judge on Friday ordered Lynn Alisa Espejo of Sherwood to serve just under four years in prison on 25 counts related to her embezzlement of more than $600,000 from a group of doctors whose business expenses she administered from 2007 through 2010.

The 53-year-old former bookkeeper fought the charges every step of the way, which had the effect of keeping her under indictment for about six years. Her latest attorneys, David Cannon and Lee Short, cited her extensive time under threat of conviction as one of several reasons she should get a lenient sentence and suggested that she receive no prison time at all.

But U.S. District Judge Kristine Baker said, “This is not a probationary case.”

Baker also told Espejo that it was her own decision to fight the charges tooth and nail, stretching her case out over several years, and that she cannot count that time as punishment.

Espejo was originally indicted on 59 charges in 2011, but prosecutors later withdrew that indictment and refiled the allegations under a different theory in 2014. During the investigation, she filed claims against an assistant U.S. attorney and the main IRS agent investigating her. Prosecutors on Friday sought a sentencing enhancement for obstruction of justice related to those claims, which they called “false and fraudulent,” but Baker denied the request.

Also during her prosecution, Espejo accused one of the doctors who contributed to the business account she managed of sexually assaulting her, but he wasn’t charged, and Baker refused to let Espejo’s trial attorney, Patrick Benca, bring it up in front of jurors.

While siding with Espejo’s attorneys on several points — including denying several requests from prosecutors to increase her penalty range — Baker also rejected Espejo’s attempts to escape a 14-point sentencing enhancement for the amount of money stolen and amount of taxes she never paid on the stolen income.

Baker said she will issue a separate restitution order within 90 days after determining the amount of money Espejo must reimburse the physicians and the Internal Revenue Service. But in tentative findings, the judge agreed with the government that Espejo owes $207,941 in income taxes as result of not reporting the fraudulent income she received.

Espejo’s attorneys had argued that she owed $79,928.76 in unpaid income taxes, based on a lower amount — $285,459.86 — that they said she was actually convicted of defrauding Practice Management Services Inc. and Blandford Medical Services Inc. out of at trial.

But Baker said she included losses that occurred outside the indictment’s time frame, determining the total amount of money fraudulently transferred from the two physician accounts to Espejo’s personal accounts over the course of her employment to be $611,099.41.

The doctors established both corporations to administer their shared business expenses. Espejo contended at trial that at least one of the doctors she worked for had authorized her to “reimburse” herself from the business accounts for purchases she made at his request using her own money. However, that doctor, Bruce Sanderson, and three others testified that Espejo wasn’t authorized to take the money.

The jury found that Espejo misrepresented the transactions in the accounting software Quickbooks and concealed the wire transfers from the doctors and their accountant. They also found that she used stolen money for personal expenses such as making payments toward a vehicle, a swimming pool and construction on a new house.

In addition to the money stolen through a wire-transfer scheme, Espejo was convicted of obtaining a debit card for one of the shared-expenses accounts and using it for personal purchases such as snow crab, bacon, popcorn balls, video gaming devices, school supplies and a trampoline.

In explaining her decision to sentence Espejo to 45 months — in the middle of a 41- to 51-month penalty range recommended by the guidelines after Baker reduced the guideline range by two levels — the judge cited work that Espejo had performed in the community, as well as details of her “personal upbringing” that were recited in a nonpublic pre-sentence report.

The judge noted that she had read an “overwhelming stack of letters regarding Ms. Espejo’s good work” in the community, from which it appeared that Espejo’s efforts to help disadvantaged or marginalized people weren’t undertaken after she was indicted, in an effort to mitigate her sentence. Baker said the letters indicated that Espejo’s benevolent acts “predate her conduct in this case.”

However, Baker said, she has also “observed conduct that belies the character that others are describing” in the letters.

The judge cited incidents in which Espejo followed a witness against her out of the courtroom without permission of the court and in which she bad-mouthed an earlier set of attorneys in open court. Baker noted that Cannon and Short are Espejo’s third set of attorneys.

“Presented solely with the conduct I’ve observed in the courtroom, the letters leave me puzzled,” Baker said.

After a seven-day trial, the jury convicted Espejo on four counts of filing false tax returns, 15 counts of wire fraud and six counts of money laundering. In addition to the prison term, Baker ordered Espejo to serve three years of supervised release, during which she must enroll in a mental-health program at her own expense.

“Today’s sentence reflects the seriousness of Ms. Espejo’s crimes,” U.S. Attorney Cody Hiland said later in a news release. “She stole hundreds of thousands of dollars from people who trusted her, and then repeatedly lied about it. These financial and tax-related crimes hurt not just the actual victims Ms. Espejo stole from, but also all citizens who are honest and pay their taxes as they should.”

The case was investigated by the IRS and prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Stephanie Mazzanti and Jamie Dempsey.

Content retrieved from: http://www.arkansasonline.com/news/2017/nov/04/bookkeeper-gets-45-month-term-in-embezz/

NC woman charged with embezzling more than $1.5 million from High Point Regional Health

Editor’s note — as you may know, we normally confine ourselves to investigating dental office embezzlement.  However, we do provide reporting on significant embezzlements in medical offices because the methodologies employed have considerable commonality.

 

 

A Kernersville woman is in jail for allegedly embezzling more than $1.5 million from her employer.

Kimberly Hobson, 46, was arrested Tuesday morning by detectives from the High Point Police Department Financial Crimes Unit along with agents from the United States Secret Service and the United States Treasury Department.

 A joint investigation led authorities to discovering the theft during Hobson’s tenure as an employee of High Point Regional Health Systems.

Hobson is charged with felonious embezzlement by employee and is being held in the High Point Jail on $1 million bond.

Hobson is scheduled to appear in court Sept. 15.

Content retrieved from: http://www.wxii12.com/article/woman-charged-with-embezzling-more-than-dollar15-million-from-high-point-regional-health-systems/12014710

Office Manager of Denver Medical Practice Steals More Than $500k

Editor’s note — as you may know, we normally confine ourselves to investigating dental office embezzlement.  However, we do provide reporting on significant embezzlements in medical offices because the methodologies employed have considerable commonality.

Jeffrie Scott Drury, 41 admitted to stealing more than $350k from the Vascular Institute of the Rockies in Denver, CO

One of the partners suggested an internal audit after they thought their practice was failing.  The forensic audit revealed that the total amount stolen was in excess of $500k over 2 years.

Mr. Drury allegedly wrote 33 checks in amounts ranging from $600 for Rockies tickets to $8,300 for a specific Bank of America account and misusing the company credit card

Judge calls Michigan woman’s 2nd embezzling conviction ‘shocking’ and ‘astounding’

Editor’s note — as you may know, we normally confine ourselves to investigating dental office embezzlement.  However, we do provide reporting on significant embezzlements in medical offices because the methodologies employed have considerable commonality.

GRAND RAPIDS — A Grand Rapids woman who still owes restitution for a 2004 embezzlement conviction is heading to prison for embezzling more than $181,000 from a prominent cosmetic surgery office – an offense a judge called “shocking’’ and “astounding.’’

Two embezzlement convictions in the span of 13 years necessitates that 48-year-old Rebecca Sue Barrera spend time locked up, Kent County Circuit Court Judge Donald A. Johnston said Tuesday, May 2. Losses from both crimes top $311,000.

“This embezzlement situation is shocking,’’ Johnston said. “It would be shocking if you had one conviction for this sort of thing, but to have a conviction for a substantial embezzlement and then go out and commit another substantial embezzlement is astounding.’’

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

Content retrieved from: http://www.freep.com/story/news/local/michigan/2017/05/03/two-embezzling-convictions/101250350/

Ex-worker at Pittsburgh medical practice admits embezzling $800K-plus

Editor’s note — as you may know, we normally confine ourselves to investigating dental office embezzlement.  However, we do provide reporting on significant embezzlements in medical offices because the methodologies employed have considerable commonality.


A former office manager of Pittsburgh Ear Nose and Throat Associates admitted Friday that she embezzled more than $800,000 from the medical practice over five years.

Regina Lewis, 47, pleaded guilty before U.S. District Judge Cathy Bissoon to a count of embezzlement in connection with health care.

Judge Bissoon will sentence her in August.

Ms. Lewis and her lawyer, Ryan Tutera, declined to comment as they left the courtroom.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Greg Melucci said Ms. Lewis, who lives in the borough of Liberty outside McKeesport, managed the practice’s six locations from its Liberty Avenue office in Bloomfield and was responsible for paying bills, depositing checks and other financial oversight.

He said that from 2011 to 2016, she deposited company checks into her own PNC Bank account and made purchases for herself using the business’ credit card. She also wrote checks to herself drawn from the company’s pension fund.

Mr. Melucci said she used the money to make personal purchases from StubHub, Ticketmaster, Giant Eagle, Kohl’s and other businesses. Unlike many large-scale embezzlers, she apparently did not use the money for any big-ticket purchases such as cars or real estate.

Asked by the judge whether she agreed with the prosecutor’s recitation of her crimes, Ms. Lewis said yes.

The estimated loss is $818,000, for which Ms. Lewis will likely be ordered to pay restitution from any future earnings.

The medical practice discovered the missing money last year and contacted the FBI, which handled the case.

Ms. Lewis was charged by complaint on March 14 and indicated three days later that she would plead.

She remains free on a $10,000 bond pending sentencing.

No one from the medical practice returned messages Friday. Allegheny Health Network, which acquired the business in 2014, had no comment.


Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com


Content retrieved from: http://www.post-gazette.com/local/city/2017/05/12/Pittsburgh-Ear-Nose-Throat-embezzle-Regina-Lewis/stories/201705120200

Former University of Louisville official charged with stealing $2.8 million

Editor’s note — as you may know, we normally confine ourselves to investigating dental office embezzlement.  However, we do provide reporting on significant embezzlements in medical offices because the methodologies employed have considerable commonality.

The former executive director of University of Louisville’s Department of Family & Geriatric Medicine was indicted Wednesday, accused of stealing $2.8 million in patient payments and other funds and failing to report $2.4 million in income.

A federal grand jury in Louisville also charged Perry Chadwick Vaughn, 36, with money laundering for allegedly trying to disguise the thefts by using the money to buy or lease nine luxury vehicles and pay for real estate, luxury vacations and a $9,000 necklace.

Vaughn, who lives in Sellersburg, Ind., was arraigned on the seven-count indictment charging him with theft and bribery in programs that receive federal funds, money laundering, mail fraud, and filing false federal income tax returns.

He had been accused of some of the offenses in a civil complaint filed last September.

The Courier-Journal reported that Vaughn wore expensive clothes, flew his family to the Caribbean and drove a fleet of luxury cars, including two Mercedes-Benzes, a Range Rover, a Corvette and an Infiniti, but that it wasn’t until October 2012 that a co-worker emailed U of L auditors questioning how Vaughn could be living so luxuriously on a $105,000 annual salary as administrator of the family medicine department and manager of affiliated private practice groups.

U.S. Attorney David J. Hale said Vaughn, in a scheme that lasted nearly six years, allegedly diverted checks and patient payments, then withdrew $2,809,489 for his personal use.

Vaughn pleaded not guilty and a trial date has been set for June 3. If convicted, he faces up to 55 years in prison and a maximum fine of $1.25 million. Magistrate Judge Dave Whalin released Vaughn on a $25,000 unsecured bond. His lawyer, Rob Eggert, could not be reached for comment.

As the department’s top administrator, Vaughn was responsible for all business and accounting functions, including payroll, budgeting, tax reporting, accounts receivable, accounts payable and bank reconciliations.

The grand jury charged that Vaughn diverted money from the department to the practice groups, then withdrew it for himself. He also is alleged to have made a number of misrepresentations to U of L Audit Services by transferring funds between bank accounts to conceal his theft and by providing false bank statements to the private practice groups.

This case is being prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan Calhoun and was investigated by the U of L Police Department, the U.S. Secret Service, the Internal Revenue Service and the U.S. Postal Inspection Service.

The university, where Vaughn initially began work as an accountant, said in September that it had fired Vaughn.

The newspaper reported then that he was one of at least six university employees accused during the previous five years of stealing the school’s money or grant funds under its control.

Gary Mans, a spokesman for the health sciences campus, said the school “has solid internal controls in place to guard against the misuse of university funds,” but that it’s “up to employees and their supervisors to follow those policies and procedures.”

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

Content retrieved from: http://www.delawareonline.com/story/news/crime/2014/04/02/former-u-l-official-charged-stealing-million/7224345/

Former NC medical office administrator embezzles $900k; going to prison

Editor’s note — as you may know, we normally confine ourselves to investigating dental office embezzlement.  However, we do provide reporting on significant embezzlements in medical offices because the methodologies employed have considerable commonality.

Mallard embezzled almost $900,000 from women’s center

Correction

This story should have said she owed $697,714. Mallard paid $195,444 in restitution of the $893,157.41 she embezzled. The insurance company for Eastern Carolina Women’s Center paid about $100,000.

Original story

Betty Small Hurley Mallard, a 62-year-old accused of embezzling nearly $900,000 from a medical practice, pleaded guilty Monday in Craven County Superior Court and was sentenced to five to seven years in prison.

Mallard, a former administrator at Eastern Carolina Women’s Center, was facing six Class C felony embezzlement charges and up to 60 years in prison.

Judge John Nobles consolidated the charges and gave her the lesser sentence.

Nobles said the case was difficult in many ways and wasn’t like normal criminal court cases. Someone age 62 would be devastated going to prison, he said.

“I guess I could give her 30 years,” he said, “but I wonder how many in here think she would live 30 years.”

Nobles said after listening to the attorneys and doctors from Eastern Carolina Women’s Center, the crime was serious and Mallard needed to go to prison.

“I recognize we’re dealing with somebody with serious mental problems,” he said. “I recognize she has made some restitution, and I recognize the damage she has done to the practice.”

Before passing sentence, Nobles said, “I do hope you’re able to survive it.”

District Attorney Scott Thomas said while he would have liked to see more active prison time for Mallard, he understood the judge’s reasoning.

“The defendant came to court, pleaded guilty, and paid partial restitution,” Thomas said. “We asked for a higher level of an active sentence and the judge decided not to give the highest sentence. But 60 to 84 months in prison for a 62-year-old is still a significant amount of time in prison, especially for somebody with no criminal record, no prior charges or convictions.”

Michael Mills, Mallard’s attorney, said the embezzlement started in September 2005 and continued to November 2015. The aftermath cost Mallard her home, a lot she owned, a beach home, and her retirement savings, he said.

Mills said he saw the embezzlement as one crime instead of the six with which she was charged. But Tonya Montanye, a prosecutor working with Thomas, said when Mallard was working at Eastern Carolina Women’s Center, she was writing checks to herself and giving herself raises to which she was not entitled. When she left the center, she had a $150,000 annual salary.

Co-workers grew suspicious when they saw pictures of an extravagant cruise ship suite she stayed in and began wondering how she could afford it, Montanye said.

 Mallard’s large spending habit included taking $22,000 from the center to pay off one month of her personal credit card bills. In six years, from 2011 to 2015, she took $686,451 from the center to pay on her personal credit card that had monthly charges from $500 to $1,000. She made $35,230.13 in unauthorized purchases from the company credit card, Montanye said.

“She had a very extravagant lifestyle,” she said.

That lifestyle included spending $2,775 at Peacock Plume, making seven purchases one day buying shoes that cost up to $398, Montanye said.

Bill Faison, who was also representing Mallard, said she had a college education and liked working at the center and everyone there liked her.

“But plain and simple, Betty is mentally ill,” Faison said. “It is unfortunate. … it acted out on her job. She spent the money on such silly things: handbags … just nothing. Just threw her life away for nothing.”

But Mallard was not a threat to anyone, Faison said.

The person signing the checks shouldn’t be keeping the books, but that wasn’t the case, he said.

“Because of her mental illness, she has done a terrible thing,” Faison said. “She is now broke, destitute, has given it all up and now faces whatever your honor thinks should be done.”

Dr. Rob Patterson of Eastern Carolina Women’s Center said Mallard’s actions harmed the practice. Two doctors had to resign because they could not afford to pay themselves while trying to compensate for the embezzlement.

Fifty employees were also affected and morale was harmed, which possibly harmed patient care, Patterson said.

Mallard, wearing a blue dress, stood before the judge.

“I would like to express my deepest regret and remorse to Eastern Carolina Women’s Center,” Mallard said in a quiet voice. “I take full responsibility for my actions. … I have great respect for the practice, physicians and employees and felt a great sense of loyalty toward the group.”

Mallard said she realized she had mental health issues that cause her irrational behavior.

“I’m deeply saddened to have disappointed those who placed their faith and confidence in me,” she said.

As part of her sentencing, Nobles ordered Mallard to get a mental health assessment at the Department of Corrections and to reimburse Eastern Carolina Women’s Center the remaining balance of more than $600,000 owed in restitution.

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

 

Content retrieved from: http://www.newbernsj.com/news/20170320/former-medical-office-administrator-going-to-prison

IL woman makes it to Federal court for large embezzlement from medical office

Editor’s note — as you may know, we normally confine ourselves to investigating dental office embezzlement.  However, we do provide reporting on significant embezzlements in medical offices because the methodologies employed have considerable commonality.


LOOMNGTON — A Clinton woman accused of stealing more than $400,000 from the medical practice that employed her is in negotiations with federal prosecutors to resolve charges that carry a possible 20-year prison term.

In a court filing delaying her March 7 jury trial in U.S. District Court in Springfield, attorneys for the government and Veronica Luster disclosed that the two sides “have met on several occasions in an effort to resolve the factual disputes regarding the amounts in issue” and recently obtained information.

The lawyers “have discussed a resolution of this matter, but have not finalized a critical term of any agreement,” according to filings by Assistant U.S. Attorney Bryan David Freres and defense lawyer L. Lee Smith.

A March 17 hearing is set to discuss a change in Luster’s not guilty plea she entered shortly after her arrest on mail and wire fraud charges in 2015 related to the alleged embezzlement of more than $400,000 from Clinton Internal Medicine and Dr. Farrukh Kureishy.

Kureishy, who is now employed at the Family Medicine Clinic at Warner Hospital and Health Services in Clinton, filed a lawsuit in 2014 against his former office manager. The doctor accuses Luster of taking more than $600,000 from the medical practice for personal items, including books, clothing, home improvement items and electronics.

The pending lawsuit seeks repayment of the office funds and Luster’s salary.

Luster was employed at the medical practice from 2005 until her termination in 2014 after the alleged embezzlement was discovered.

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

 

Office manager for Tacoma WA doctors accused of taking $1 million-plus faces judgment

Eight Tacoma-area doctors have won a lawsuit against a longtime office manager they accused of taking more than $1 million.

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/news/local/article25262419.html#storylink=cpy

Delaware office manager pleads guilty to mail fraud; agrees to $1 million restitution

Editor’s note — as you may know, we normally confine ourselves to investigating dental office embezzlement.  However, we do provide reporting on significant embezzlements in medical offices because the methodologies employed have considerable commonality.


WILMINGTON, Del. (AP) – The former office manager of a medical practice in Dover has pleaded guilty to federal mail fraud charges.

According to a court filing Tuesday, a federal judge in Wilmington scheduled the sentencing of Pamela Poore for March 3.

Poore, who worked at Internal Medicine of Dover, waived indictment last week and pleaded guilty to a single count of mail fraud, which carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.

Authorities say Poore, who was responsible for day-to-day accounting tasks and making cash deposits, misappropriated the medical firm’s funds for her own use by writing unauthorized checks and failing to make cash deposits. As part of the plea agreement, she must pay more than $1 million in restitution.

Do you have questions about embezzlement?  Give Prosperident a call at 888-398-2327 or send an email to requests@dentalembezzlement.com

Content retrieved from: http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/nov/25/del-office-manager-pleads-guilty-to-mail-fraud/