A Hamilton woman charged with embezzling money from her employer admitted to authorities that she used some of the stolen funds to make donations to the election campaign of Trenton councilwoman Marge Caldwell-Wilson.
“I’m the victim here,” the councilwoman told this newspaper Tuesday night. “She cleaned me out.”
Yolanda M. Torres, 43, was Caldwell-Wilson’s campaign treasurer who signed off on the North Ward councilwoman’s election reports, according to state records.
Torres is charged with 10 felony counts for allegedly embezzling more than $430,000 from Shu Dental Laboratory, located in Morrisville, Pa., where Torres was hired as a bookkeeper in July 2016.
Caldwell-Wilson said after Tuesday’s council meeting that Torres “cleaned me out” by stealing money from her election account, and that she was the one who reported her campaign treasurer “as soon as I found out.”
“It’s still very upsetting for me because she’s my friend,” the councilwoman said. “She called me ‘mom.’ I feel very sorry for her children and I’m concerned about her family. It’s devastating.”
The councilwoman said the two were so close that she attended a graduation for Torres’ son.
That trust was apparently misplaced, as prosecutors revealed that Torres used more than $21,000 in stolen money to donate to the councilwoman’s campaign fund.
Prosecutors say Torres began issuing unauthorized business checks to herself, her son and other groups almost immediately upon starting the job at Shu Dental.
The unauthorized transfers totaled $439,637.19.
About half of those transactions happened earlier this year when Torres made a series of large transfers from Shu Dental’s business line of credit, prosecutors say.
A review of the company’s accounting logs showed Torres issued 188 unauthorized checks, each fraudulently stamped with the signature of the company’s owner. Investigators say she falsified documentation to make 177 of those expenditures appear legitimate. The other 11 had no supporting documentation, according to prosecutors in the case.
Officials say Torres also gave herself three unauthorized raises, increasing her pay by 50 cents an hour in September 2016 and again by another 50 cents in November 2016. The following June, she gave herself a pay increase of $1 per hour, according to prosecutors who say she collected an additional $6,114 through the wage increases.
According to an affidavit of probable cause, Torres admitted during an interview with detectives from the Bucks County District Attorney’s Office and the Mercer County Prosecutor’s Office that she used money from Shu Dental to pay her rent, utilities and her son’s college tuition, as well as to cover other personal expenses.
In addition to the funds donated to Caldwell-Wilson, Torres also admitted she gave $5,553 of stolen money to Friends of Ewing Football. Court documents further state that Torres donated an unspecified amount of stolen money to the Lady Margaret Animal Foundation, which was founded by the councilwoman.
Caldwell-Wilson said her records show that Torres never made donations to the animal foundation, but rather stole money from the account.
“According to my knowledge after sitting down with the bank, I didn’t see any contributions [from Torres] to the foundation. I saw a lot of withdrawals,” Caldwell-Wilson said.
The councilwoman said she had to transfer cash from her personal account to the foundation to keep it active.
“Over a period of two years, Yolanda Torres abused her position of trust at Shu Dental Lab to turn a personal profit and conceal a pattern of theft,” First Assistant District Attorney Gregg Shore said in a written statement. “She used her employer like an open checkbook and ravaged the company’s finances.”
Caldwell-Wilson’s campaign coffers had more than $8,300 in it, according to Torres’ last filing from April.
That report shows Torres refunded herself $2,553 on April 26, writing it was a “reimbursement on CC payment for Royal.”
Torres also donated another $300 on Dec. 17, 2017, to Inaugural 2018 Inc. — which was Gov. Phil Murphy’s inauguration committee — according to state records.
The nonprofit was set up by Rajiv D. Parikh to conduct “inaugural events for New Jersey Governor-elect Philip Murphy and any related activities,” according to treasury records obtained by The Trentonian.
Parikh served as senior counsel for Murphy’s transition team. Murphy’s wife, Tammy, is part of the nonprofit’s board of trustees, records show.
Aside from the lone $2,500 reimbursement, the records do not indicate any other political donations from Torres to Caldwell-Wilson. Political donations are supposed to be reported on election reports, with a maximum individual contribution limit of $2,600.
At-large councilman Jerell Blakeley called that “troubling.”
“I just have one question: How does Marge’s treasurer contribute $20,000 to her campaign without any record of it on Marge’s ELEC reports,” Blakeley said. “Something doesn’t smell right. I look forward to the prosecutor’s investigation of this very troubling news.”
Caldwell-Wilson, a former state social worker originally from Scotland, was re-elected to a third term in June following her convincing runoff win over challenger and perpetual foe Algernon Ward.
Caldwell-Wilson recently came under fire when West Ward councilwoman Robin Vaughn via Facebook called on her to resign from the legislative body over her ties to the Trenton Downtown Association, which was established decades ago when the city created a special improvement district to foster downtown growth.
Vaughn felt it was a conflict of interest for Caldwell-Wilson to sit on TDA’s board of directors. Caldwell-Wilson declined to bow to Vaughn, who was roundly rebuffed by online detractors who felt she was being petty.
Torres is charged with dealing in proceeds of unlawful activities, theft, receiving stolen property, identity theft and crimes related to the illegal use of computers. A Pennsylvania judge set bail at $100,000.
The investigation into the thefts began in July after a client contacted Shu Dental to report an unauthorized $1,316 charge on his business credit card completed by Torres.
The criminal complaint says Torres resigned from the company July 13 after she was questioned about the transaction by the company owner.
As of this time, Torres is only charged by Bucks County prosecutors. A Mercer County investigation is ongoing and the councilwoman is fully cooperating with detectives.
A couple has been charged with identity theft for allegedly using a woman’s personal information to obtain treatment at a dental office in Hillsborough, court documents state. Above is a Sept. 2011 file photo of a man having a cavity filled.
HILLSBOROUGH — A man and his girlfriend are facing identity theft charges after allegedly using his ex-wife’s personal information to receive treatment last year at a Hillsborough dental office, court documents state.
John Turner, 48, and Tina Babich, 47, both with last known addresses in Wildwood, are accused of visiting the dental office between July 10 and 12, 2013, to obtain a root canal for Babich, according to an affidavit filed in Superior Court in Somerville. The couple were charged on Thursday.
At the time, Babich identified herself by Turner’s ex-wife’s name and provided the other woman’s Social Security number, date of birth, insurance information and place of employment, the affidavit states. Turner used his real name, but identified Babich by his ex-wife’s name, the affidavit states.
The dental office performed a partial root canal on Babich, but the ex-wife, who lives in Florida, later told the police no one, including Turner, had “her permission or authorization to give her personal information to obtain dental/medical benefits,” the affidavit states.
A witness from the dental office also identified Babich as someone who worked there for about a week several years earlier, the affidavit states.
Authorities have been unable to locate Turner and Babich, according to the affidavit.
The Fortuna resident who allegedly fraudulently ran Eel River Valley Dental using forged documents appeared in court Monday and has been charged with four felony counts.
According to Humboldt County court records, Mazair, also known as Michael, Eshghipour allegedly committed insurance fraud, fraudulently altered medical credentials, fraudulently used an altered medical credential and practiced medicine without a license from July 2015 to June 2016.
Retired dentist Robert Parks said he sold his practice, Eel River Valley Dental, to Eshghipour in 2015 at the referral of another local dentist.
“We got a license from him but he forged it,” he said.
Parks then retired but heard odd things from his old staff who all kept their jobs through the ownership transition.
“He continued to use my prescription and my license number,” he said.
The staff kept digging and found no record of a license for Eshghipour, he said.
“As soon as they found out I immediately called and told them to leave the office and call the authorities,” Parks said.
He said he came out of retirement and took over his old practice to stabilize his patients and make sure they transitioned to another, licensed, dentist.
“My patients were my friends and my family so I wouldn’t sleep at night if I didn’t do that,” Parks said.
Parks retired again, for good, in May this year and Eel River Valley Dental is no longer operating.
According to a Humboldt County District Attorney’s Office news release, the Fortuna Police Department and DA’s office investigated this case extensively and arrested Eshghipour on June 30, 2016. He was later released on his own recognizance.
“Today, Mr. Eshghipour made an initial appearance in Humboldt Superior Court,” the DA’s office release, issued on Monday, reads. “He did not enter a plea. The matter was continued to for October 2, 2017. The case is being prosecuted by Deputy District Attorney Tobias Hasler, who specializes in insurance fraud crimes.”
He appeared for a arraignment on a complaint and according to court records would have had a warrant issued for his arrest had he not shown up.
Eshghipour’s is due in court for his continued complaint arraignment on Oct. 2 at 1:30 p.m., according to court records.
He faces one felony charge of making false statements for an insurance claim, felony possessing an altered certificate to practice medicine, felony using a fraudulent certificate and felony practicing medicine without a license, according to court records.
“He was just deceitful, a con man,” Parks said. “He conned a lot of people so I don’t think he should be on the street.”
Content retrieved from http://www.times-standard.com/article/NJ/20170725/NEWS/170729896
HACKENSACK – Two dentists who worked together in Englewood Cliffs are embroiled in a lawsuit with one practitioner claiming the other posted defamatory reviews about him online in an effort to destroy his reputation, according to a lawsuit filed in Bergen County.
Dong Hyun Lee, 52, claims in court papers that former colleague Catherine Chen, 40, posted a fake review about his practice on the Heath Grades website in January 2016, disguising herself as “Q.T. from Palisades Park.”
“This is the worst dental experience I have ever encountered in my life!” the post states, according to the lawsuit.
“From the long waiting time to the rough and painful handling while working on my teeth to insurance fraud for charging my insurance for work that Dr. Dong Lee never did, I can’t imagine any other dental office can be as terrible as this one!” the suit claims the poster wrote. “Run as fast as you can from this place!”
Lee and Chen worked together for a time at Lee’s practice, Sylvan Dental, which serves clients in North Jersey and several counties in New York, according to the suit. Chen is identified in court papers as a tenant in Lee’s practice.
“Over time, the name ‘Sylvan Dental’ and ‘Dong Lee’ have become synonymous with high quality dental care provided to the Korean-American community and to the community at large,” the suit states.
Content retrieved from http://www.nj.com/bergen/index.ssf/2017/01/dentist_posted_libelous_reviews_of_colleague_onlin.html
One New Jersey man sought to carry on the memory of a deceased dentist in a way that has landed him with a hefty bill. According to the New York Daily News, Roben Brookhim will face a $1.1 million fine for assuming the identity of John Kirkland Jr.
Brookhim, 58, reportedly issued bills to Medicaid under Kirkland’s identity at Associated Dental from 2005 to 2012. In addition to this million dollar fine, Brookhim is barred from practicing dentistry for 50 years. In a statement issued by the chief counsel of the Inspector General, Gregory Demske, Brookhim’s case will serve as a lesson to those who plan to follow in his illegal footsteps. “This case sends a strong warning that individuals who intentionally circumvent exclusion to defraud Federal health care programs face substantial consequences.”
Demske adds that the 50-year ban is also “one of the longest exclusion periods ever imposed by our office.” Brookhim’s assumed motive for this incident stemmed from the indefinite loss of his practicing license in 2004. NJ.com reports that medical officials noticed issues with Brookhim’s billing methods, and decided to strip him of his license in 1999, but temporarily. It was revoked five years later when authorities uncovered that he was still practicing the same illegal methods.
NORRISTOWN >> A New Jersey woman who worked as an office manager at an Abington Township dental practice has been convicted of charges she stole more than $85,000 from the business to support, prosecutors say, her “lavish lifestyle.”
Jackie Singer, 50, of Pennsauken, showed no emotion as she was convicted by a jury in Montgomery County Court of charges of theft by unlawful taking, receiving stolen property and forgery in connection with incidents that occurred between 2008 and 2014 while she worked for the Julie Robin Arouh Dental Practice along Old York Road in the Jenkintown section of Abington.
Judge Gail. A. Weilheimer, who presided over the four-day trial, deferred sentencing so that court officials can complete a background investigative report about Singer. Singer remains free on bail pending sentencing.
“As an employee she stole money from the business bank accounts of the doctor and owner of that business,” alleged Assistant District Attorney Meghan Carney. “She was the office manager, so she had full rein of the books as well as the business bank accounts. She was stealing from the office in different ways. We will be seeking some type of jail time.”
An investigation began after Singer was dismissed from her job in March 2014 and the owner of the practice conducted an audit of office records “and found several financial discrepancies dating back to 2008,” according to the criminal complaint filed by Abington Detective Robert Wilsbach.
The investigation determined Singer paid her personal credit card bills using the dental practice’s bank accounts. Singer also issued checks from the accounts for personal use, signing the doctor’s name to the checks “for which she was not authorized,” Wilsbach alleged.
Singer also applied for and was issued a Visa business account in the practice’s name and used it to make personal purchases, prosecutors alleged.
“She was going on trips. She went to the Bahamas. She went to Las Vegas. She bought airline tickets, hotel reservations, she paid for her car insurance … and other personal expenses,” Carney alleged. “She purchased items from Coach, Tiffany’s and tropical vacations.
“We would submit that she was using these stolen funds to live a lavish lifestyle,” Carney added.
During the trial, Singer, who was represented by defense lawyer Andres Jalon, testified and implied the owner of the practice had given her permission to use the funds. Carney said the doctor never gave Singer permission.
“Essentially, this is a case of misplaced trust. The doctor trusted her to run the office and the defendant took advantage of that trust and used those funds for her own personal gain,” Carney said.
The office manager of an East Brunswick, N.J., dental practice pleaded guilty to cheating insurers out of $45,000 by billing for services never rendered.
Magdy Rafla, 56, made the plea to a charge of second-degree health care claims fraud in a state Superior Court, according to the New Jersey Attorney General’s Office.
Rafla, the billing manager at his wife’s dental practice, admitted that between Feb. 9, 2004, and June 14, 2007, he knowingly falsified the dental records of 66 different patients, adding services never performed. He also admitted to submitting the records to various insurers for payment and reimbursement.
An investigation by the New Jersey Office of the Insurance Fraud Prosecutor found that the dental practice gained $45,000 as a result of Rafla’s fraudulent activity.
As part of the plea deal, Rafla’s wife, Gina Tanios-Rafla, agreed to a five-year dental license supervision, including 364 days of an active suspension. The remainder will serve as a period of probation. The dentist also signed a separate consent judgment ordering her to pay a $50,000 civil fine.
Rafla is scheduled for sentencing Sept. 13 and through the plea, the state recommended a three-year state prison sentence and a $50,000 civil fine.
TRENTON – Division of Criminal Justice Director Gregory A. Paw announced that the former office manager for an Essex County dentist has pleaded guilty to stealing more than $37,000 in insurance claim checks.
According to Insurance Fraud Prosecutor Greta Gooden Brown, Cindy Crissien, 23, Clifton, Passaic County, pleaded guilty before Essex County Superior Court Judge Nancy Sivilli to an accusation which charged theft by deception and insurance fraud (3rd degree). Crissien faces up to ten years in state prison, a fine of up to $15,000, and possible civil insurance fraud fines when sentenced on May 12.
In pleading guilty, Crissien admitted that between Oct. 1, 2002 and May 17, 2004, while employed as the office manager in a Cedar Grove, Essex County, dentist’s office, she diverted at least 48 insurance claim reimbursement checks received by the dentist totaling more than $37,000 into her personal account. The investigation also determined that Crissien submitted $2,650 in personal dental insurance claims to MetLife for dental procedures that were not performed.
State Investigator Harry N. Maronpot, Civil Investigator Andre Mitchell, and Deputy Attorney General Joan M. Burke were assigned to the investigation. DAG Burke represented the Office of Insurance Fraud Prosecutor at the March 23 guilty plea hearing
What would anyone do with $1 million in dental supplies?
The president of a Cranford-based dental supply company sent hundreds of invoices to product manufacturers, but all the paperwork was fake, authorities say.
Now the company president Frank Clavelli, 42, of Monroe Township, Middlesex County, faces charges for falsely obtaining more than $1 million in products, acting Union County Prosecutor Grace Park said Wednesday.
Clavelli, president of Tristate Dental Supplies & Equipment, is charged with theft by deception and misconduct by a corporate official, both second-degree charges, Park said in a statement.
He also was charged with fourth-degree engaging in deceptive business practices and forgery, Park said.
Tristate, now headquartered in Monroe, was previously located in Cranford, the prosecutor said.
She said Clavelli allegedly had been fabricating fictitious invoices himself, and claiming that other companies were making purchases from a manufacturer, Dentsply Sirona, which is based in New York and Pennsylvania.
“The fictitious invoices, which numbered in the hundreds, resulted in Tristate receiving more than $1 million in goods from Dentsply Sirona before the alleged scheme was finally uncovered,” Park said.