Ex-VA dentist gets 2 years of probation for stealing gold, equipment from clinic in Nebraska

 

A former Omaha dentist at the Veteran Affairs Medical Center was sentenced Thursday to two years on probation in the theft of precious metals and dental equipment from the facility.

U.S. District Judge Lyle Strom issued the sentence, which included a $1,000 fine and a $100 special assessment, after Randall Toothaker, 59, pleaded no contest last month to theft of government property. He faced up to 10 years in prison.

Investigators say Toothaker took more than $16,000 worth of dental equipment and dental gold while working at the VA dental clinic in 2013. Officers searched his car outside the clinic and found a bag containing clinic property.

 Toothaker declined to comment, but his attorney, Alan Stoler, said his client was satisfied with the sentence.

“It’s a fair disposition of this case,’’ Stoler said.

Before Strom’s ruling, Stoler urged probation, telling the judge that Toothaker had compiled “an excellent career in dentistry.’’

“He (Toothaker) has been the subject of much ignominy,’’ Stoler said. “He’s willing to accept punishment from this court.’’

In December, Stoler told the court that Toothaker was working for a dental group in Fort Dodge, Iowa.

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Woman accused of Nebraska embezzlement

NORTH PLATTE — A 33-year-old Sutherland woman has been accused of embezzling from her employer in North Platte.

Kelli Kapps was arrested on suspicion of theft, accused of stealing $6,700 from a dental practice.
 North Platte police say Kapps began taking the money in April 2010.

Kapps didn’t immediately return a call Friday to a Sutherland phone listing for her. Online court records don’t yet list the case.

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Sharon Troff charged with embezzlement from a Nebraska dental office and, in an unrelated matter, with child endangerment in an Iowa day care she owned

sharontroff

The woman charged with five counts of child endangerment after the Council Bluffs child care center she ran closed down after less than a month in operation now faces two felony charges in Sarpy County, Neb.

Sharon Troff, 23, was charged Thursday with one count of theft and one count of insurance fraud, both for amounts in excess of $1,500, said Laurie Burgess, a deputy county attorney.

 Troff remains free on bond since her arrest last week when sheriff’s deputies obtained a warrant to investigate the missing money. Prosecutors reviewed the evidence and filed the charges.

Sarpy County Sheriff’s Sgt. Don Voss said Troff left an extensive trail of evidence.

She worked for about six months as an accounts clerk at the dental offices of Dr. Anthony Bolamperti in Omaha and Sarpy County, Voss said.

During that time, Troff would bill insurance companies for work done at the offices, mark the customer’s account paid when the insurance check arrived, then deposit the check in her checking and savings accounts, Voss said. She mostly used ATMs.

“I’m sure all the transactions are on video,” he said.

Wells Fargo Bank then deposited the unendorsed checks in her account, Voss said.

All of the checks, close to 200 of them, have Troff’s account number on them, he said.

“It was not too hard to investigate,” Voss said, but it was “a lot of work because there were so many checks.”

Troff also submitted bills in excess of the proper amount for dental work done on her husband and deposited that check, Voss said.

“This is one where I don’t think she can come up with an excuse to exonerate her from these deeds,” Voss said.

The Sarpy County attorney will have to prove there’s a basis for the allegations at a preliminary hearing, if there is one, said Anthony Troia, an Omaha attorney who is representing Troff on the Sarpy County charges.

An Aug. 30 preliminary hearing has been set, Troia said.

Pottawattamie County Attorney Matt Wilber said his office will be in contact with Nebraska authorities about prosecution of the two sets of unrelated charges.


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Nebraska woman embezzles $120,000 — sentenced to 180 days in jail and five years probation


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kleewein

A North Platte woman found guilty of embezzling more than $120,000 from her former employer was sentenced Aug. 26 in Lincoln County District Court.

Bonnie Kleewein, 14525 Branting Road, received 180 days in Lincoln County jail and five years probation. She was also ordered to pay $106,816.54 in restitution, to be paid back over the term of her probation.

She will be allowed to secure a work release.

Kleewein had been scheduled to be sentenced in July, but her attorney Robert Lindemeier asked for an extension. Another one of Lindemeier’s clients, Donald Lee, was to be sentenced for second degree murder on the same day.

Lindemeier told the court that he did not believe he could devote adequate attention to Kleewein’s case under the circumstances. He requested and received a continuance.

The crime

Kleewein pleaded no contest May 19 to felony theft from North Platte dentist David Zalewski.

After hearing the facts of the case, Lincoln County District Judge John Murphy pronounced her guilty.

Kleewein was a receptionist in the dental office.

According to court records, Zalewski was planning a merger with another North Platte dentist, Benjamin Lashlay, since the beginning of 2007.

During the transition, Kleewein complained about the merger and ended up resigning in July 2007, the affidavit said. It was then that Anne Zalewski, David’s wife, began auditing the books and noticed discrepancies in cash received at the business and money deposited into the dentist’s business account, the affidavit said.

According to the affidavit, rather than deposit money from patients into the account, Kleewein noted cash accounts as credit card transactions. Approximately $30,000 to $40,000 was missing, the affidavit said.

The affidavit also said that Anne Zalewski had also discovered that Kleewein had allegedly been altering checks written by David Zalewski. Several pages of a carbonless imprint checkbook were missing.

After receiving images of the checks from the bank, including the missing checks, Anne discovered numerous checks had been altered, the affidavit said.

The affidavit said Kleewein’s name was written directly over the name of the person for whom the check was supposed to go on some checks and the value of the checks were changed by as many as a thousand dollars or more.

The affidavit said it appeared Kleewein wrote “very lightly” on the original check, just hard enough to leave an imprint of the legitimate name on the ledger but easy enough for her to erase the correct name on the check. Approximately $100,000 was embezzled in this manner, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit said Kleewein cashed the checks at Union Pacific Credit Union and US Bank in North Platte.

Kleewein was also charged with stealing from her invalid mother’s bank account but those charges were later dismissed.

Chief Deputy Lincoln County Attorney Todd Engleman said, during the state’s investigation of the theft from Kleewein’s mother, the state received “conflicting information” that would have made prosecuting the abuse of a vulnerable adult difficult.

A subsequent civil case filed against Kleewein in Lincoln County District Court in 2007 by Zalewski was dismissed without prejudice and could be filed again after the completion of the criminal case.

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Nebraska woman receives 30 days in jail and 3 years probation

Connie Harpold

A Scottsbluff woman convicted of embezzling from her former employer asked for probation Thursday, citing the needs of her family.

A Scotts Bluff County District Judge agreed, sentencing Connie Harpold, 48, to three years probation on a charge of theft, a Class III felony. She will also serve a 30-day jail sentence.

Scotts Bluff County Attorney Doug Warner had sought a longer sentence of imprisonment on the charge. In his statements to the court, Warner said the thefts from her employer, Gering dentist Mark Schlothauer, occurred over a period of time, though the thefts had been consolidated into one charge.

“There are a series of acts … This isn’t a one-time decision someone made and they never made it again,” he said.

Harpold tried to conceal her theft, which Warner had put at more than $9,000 during the trial, by making false entries into accounting software of the company. During the trial, Warner said Harpold pocketed cash payments made by patients and noted them on daily records as checks.

Jason Ossian, Harpold’s attorney, argued that Harpold had already paid $5,916.70 to the court — the amount that a Scotts Bluff County jury determined Harpold had stolen from Schlothauer. The jury convicted Harpold of the theft charge after a week-long trial in December.

Ossian said Harpold “appreciates the nature and the seriousness of the case. She respects the court, the jury and its findings.” However, he never made any apologies on Harpold’s behalf and Harpold didn’t offer any when asked if she had any comment to the court. Judge Leo Dobrovolny said a pre-sentence investigation noted that Harpold had not taken responsibility for the theft.

Ossian argued, and Dobrolvony agreed, that Harpold made a good candidate for probation. He said a pre-sentence investigation had assigned her a low-to-moderate rate to re-offend and she had little previous contact with law enforcement.

He cited Harpold’s role as a caregiver to her husband, Ivan, her 11-year-old son and her mother as reasons that Harpold should receive probation. Harpold’s husband is currently in the end stages of renal failure and is undergoing dialysis as he awaits a kidney transplant. He suffers from Type II diabetes and a heart condition. Her husband’s doctors submitted letters on her behalf attesting to her care of her husband.

In a letter to the court, Harpold’s husband described her as “the glue that hold the family together,” Ossian said.

Her mother has been diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease and her doctors also submitted letters about the care that Harpold provides to the 78-year-old woman.

Harpold has not been employed since being dismissed from her position February 2010, shortly before the Schlothauers reported the theft to authorities. Ossian noted that Harpold is “a very hard-working women” who will have to deal with the disadvantages of living in a small community while everyone knows she has been convicted of a felony.

As one of the conditions of probation, Harpold must find a job within 45 days, Dobrovolny said.


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Woman found guilty of theft from dental clinic
December 23, 2010 Dawn Bowen   
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A former employee of the Gering Dental Clinic was found guilty of theft late Monday after jury deliberation that lasted several hours.

Connie Harpold, 47, was convicted on the single count of theft and was found to be responsible for paying more than $5,900 in restitution to the clinic. The 12-person jury began deliberating early Monday afternoon and returned the verdict around 8:30 p.m. Harpold was arrested in March and accused of embezzling cash payments made by patients to the Gering Dental Clinic where she worked for several years as a receptionist and manager.

Prosecutor Doug Warner of the Scotts Bluff County Attorney’s Office called a number of witnesses to the stand during the trial, including patients who testified they had paid cash for dental services and bank employees who detailed numerous deposits that rarely included cash.

Drs. George and Mark Schlothauer also testified during the week-long trial, telling of their suspicions that led to Harpold’s being fired from the clinic in February, and a subsequent review of the clinic’s financial and bank records.

Defense attorney Jason Ossian maintained throughout the trial that it was the Schlothauers, and not Harpold, who routinely took cash from the drawer where the deposits were kept.

“When it came time for deposits, you would tell Connie to hold out the cash for you,” he said when questioning Mark Schlothauer on Friday.
“No. Absolutely not,” Schlothauer stated.

Harpold testified in her own defense, repeatedly stating that she had never taken cash from the bank deposits.

She said the bank deposits rarely included any cash payments and that Mark Schlothauer had corrected her on one occasion when she had deposited cash into the bank.

“I actually had made a cash deposit on his account and he asked me not to do that again,” she said, adding that cash payments were subsequently handled differently.

“He would ask me if there was any cash and I would tell him how much cash was in the bag and he would either take the cash or leave it in the bag,” she said.

Other testimony during the trial surrounded a number of checks written to “ICEnterprises” – a company owned by Harpold and her husband.

Mark Schlothauer testified that the checks totalling several hundred dollars were written by Harpold and drawn on his bank account without his permission.

Harpold claimed the checks were for cleaning services she performed, but Mark Schlothauer maintained he had never agreed to pay Harpold for cleaning services and pointed out that his father was paying Harpold to clean the clinic.

A sentencing hearing is scheduled for Jan. 20 in District Court.

The sentence is expected to include an order to pay restitution to the clinic in the amount of $5,916.

Nebraska receptionist suspected of embezzling $11k from dentist

A former dentist’s office receptionist turned herself in Tuesday to Lincoln police, who accuse her of embezzling $11,612 from the company.

Loretta Jean McClure, 41, 2600 A St., was arrested on suspicion of theft.

Lincoln Police Officer Katie Flood said her employer at Pine Lake Dental, 3200 Pine Lake Road, noticed financial discrepancies when McClure went on vacation recently.

More specifically, it was noticed that McClure, who was in charge of collecting patients’ payments and taking cash to the bank, hadn’t made a cash deposit in all of 2010, Flood said.

 Flood said McClure was hired by Pine Lake Dental in July 2008. During her employment, 70 cash payments were not deposited, Flood said.

She said it is unknown what happened to the missing money. McClure had no prior contact with Lincoln police.


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