Kennewick, Washington Police Accuse 3 Of Dental Office Prescription Drug Scheme


Two employees of a Kennewick dental office are accused of pulling off a sophisticated scheme involving at least 167 forged prescriptions.

Nicole Bernice Polus and Chareise Louise Raugust, along with her fiance, Miljan Ignjatic, allegedly wrote, called in or picked up fraudulent prescriptions in the Tri-Cities during a four-year period, police said.

“There were so many names … including fictitious names,” Kennewick police Detective Rick Runge told the Herald. “It is just so large, we just went with the suspects’ names and family” to try to track the forgeries.

Polus and Ignjatic made their first appearances Thursday in Benton County Superior Court and pleaded innocent to several charges of obtaining a controlled substance through fraud.

Polus, 40, faces an April 9 trial on eight charges of fraudulently obtaining Lorcet and Vicodin. The charges include the aggravating factor that she used a position of trust to commit the crime. Polus was a dental hygienist in William Craig Stout’s dental office.

Ignjatic, 34, is charged with six counts of obtaining Lorcet, hydrocodone and diazepam through fraud. His trial is also set for April 9.

Raugust, who was Stout’s office manager, pleaded innocent to one count of obtaining a controlled substance — hydrocodone — through fraud, with the aggravating factor that she used a position of trust to commit the crime.

She also was in court Thursday. Her trial is April 9.

Kennewick police began investigating the case in September after getting an anonymous tip through Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers claiming that employees at Stout Family Dental were embezzling money, forging prescriptions and providing free dental care.

Runge was assigned to investigate the tip and contacted Stout, who “was shocked, to say the least.”

Through the investigation, Runge contacted four pharmacies and found 167 forged prescriptions that had allegedly been authorized by Stout and Navdeep Virk, who owned the dental practice before Stout bought it in October 2010.

Stout bought new software for prescriptions and one suspect was using the old system to write various prescriptions for herself, her husband and other people, Runge said.

He said the other suspect was “just forging prescriptions and calling them in.”

According to court documents, Polus called in several unauthorized prescriptions in the name of herself, her relatives, Raugust and Raugust’s relatives. Stout and Virk were contacted by police and both said they did not authorize the medications.

Raugust’s charge stems from two prescriptions that were called in for her son, Jaden Raugust-Gonzales, documents said.

Raugust-Gonzales told Runge that he asked his mother if she could get him prescriptions for a toothache. She asked Stout, but Stout said he would not approve the prescription unless he was able to see Raugust-Gonzales in the office first, documents said. Raugust-Gonzales never was examined.

Ignjatic is accused of picking up forged prescriptions that had been called in to pharmacies in his name.

Runge credited Tyler Varnum, with the state Board of Pharmacy, with helping him understand the prescription process as he investigated the case. Varnum came to the Tri-Cities twice to go to pharmacies with Runge, he said.

Runge said he traced the scheme back to 2007, but because many fictitious names were used, it was difficult to track them all down to try to connect them back to the suspects.

“Just trying to get a handle on it and tracking all the names” was the biggest challenges to the investigation, he said.

This is not the first time, however, that Polus allegedly called in fraudulent prescriptions. In 2008, she self-reported to the state Department of Health, her employer and police that she called in three unauthorized prescriptions for diazepam, according to Department of Health records.

Polus, who has had a state dental hygiene license since 1997, admitted the violations after the allegations surfaced during her divorce proceeding, records said.

Richland police investigated the prescription fraud allegations between June and December 2005, said Capt. Mike Cobb. It was reported by Polus on June 10, 2008.

The police report was forwarded to the Benton County Prosecutor’s Office, but no charges were filed. Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller said the report indicated that Polus was very cooperative and remorseful, and the statute of limitations had passed.

Polus was, however, placed on a two-year probation by the state Department of Health after she cooperated with the investigation and expressed a “willingness to undergo a substance abuse assessment,” records show.

Polus was required to get a drug evaluation and complete a program, if recommended, retake the dental hygienist drug and law exam within six months, and pay a $1,000 reimbursement to the Dental Hygienist Program.

It is not known if Polus followed through with the requirements of her probation, but no other action has been taken against her by the health department, according to online records.

Her dental hygiene license was renewed Oct. 28, 2011.

Have questions or concerns? Call us toll-free at 888-398-2327 or click the button below.

Contact Us

Content retrieved from


Maine Office Manager Charged With Embezzling More Than $100k

ELLSWORTH — A Waldo County woman has been charged with theft and forgery after police said she allegedly bilked a business where she worked out of more than $100,000. Michelle Ludden, 35, of Jackson was summoned by Ellsworth Police Detective Dotty Small Tuesday on charges of felony-level theft and forgery after she allegedly stole $106,242.44 from a local dentist’s office over a period of 16 months. Small said Ludden worked as office manager at the practice, and as such had direct access to its finances. Small said Ludden allegedly used a debit card she was not authorized to use to fund a separate business account and then wrote checks payable to herself and others from the latter account. Small said Ludden also made cash withdrawals from that latter business account. The thefts are alleged to have occurred in a period between December 2014 and April of this year. The forgery charge stems from Ludden allegedly forging her employer’s signature to endorse the checks that she then went on to make out to herself and others. Small said the employer came to police in April after a bank informed the employer that the practice’s account was overdrawn. Small said both charges against Ludden are Class B charges. Class B theft is defined as a theft involving $10,000 or more, Small said, and is the highest level theft charge in Maine (the state does not have a Class A theft charge). Likewise, Class B forgery is the most serious forgery charge an individual can face. Ludden is due in court in Ellsworth on Tuesday, July 19.
Have questions or concerns? Call us toll-free at 888-398-2327 or click the button below.

Contact Us

Don’t See This One Every Day … Missouri Receptionist Convicted Of Embezzling From Her Father’s Practice — Sentenced To 18 Months In Prison

Surrounded by family and friends, a Houston woman was sentenced Tuesday to 18 months in federal prison on charges that she embezzled from her elderly father.
Shirley A. Scheets, 50, was ordered to prison by Aug. 3 after U.S. District Judge Richard E. Dorr heard testimony during a sentencing hearing in U.S. District Court in downtown Springfield. The prison time is followed by three years of supervised probation, and Scheets also must immediately make restitution to her father, Dr. Glen Schuster, who testified against her from a wheelchair and described himself as financially broke, urging the judge to mandate a long prison term and restitution to him. His daughter, Lea, sat nearby. In lieu of a timely payment, Scheets may make installments under a formula outlined by Dorr, who said the sentence was dictated by a guilty plea entered earlier by Scheets.
Despite pleas for leniency, Dorr said probation was inconsistent with the magnitude of the crime, he wouldn’t be swayed by the emotions of the testimony about Scheets’ character and must follow the facts in the case. “It’s as though we’re dealing with two different people,” Dorr said after hearing several pleas for probation. Scheets’ attorney, Scott McBride of Rolla, can appeal.

About 75 friends and family gathered in a small third-floor courtroom in support of Scheets, who served as her father’s office manager at his South Sam Houston Blvd. dental practice and assisted him on a horse and dog breeding operation east of Houston. About 85 letters of support were reviewed by the judge, who noted the outpouring of support was exceptional in his career.

Friends and acquaintances said Scheets was a faithful, loving daughter who returned to her native Houston to help her father after he lost his office manager and needed assistance on the family farm. They noted she was eager to always help others.
Dr. B.C. Taylor, a Houston veterinarian, said he found Scheets active in the care of the animals when he arrived for calls. A family friend and former Schuster employee, Bob Richards, said the dentist’s daughter was always busy on the farm, performing chores.
“My personal feeling is that this shouldn’t have ever occurred,” Richards said of the charges brought in the April 2009 indictment by a grand jury.
Julius Fraley, a longtime neighbor to Schuster, said Scheets was actively involved in the management of the farm and readily helped him.
A high school classmate, Becky Bryan of Rolla, described how her friend returned to Houston to help her dad, telling her, “Daddy needs me.” Bryan said the statement was typical of her friend. “Shirley is the cream of crop,” she told the judge.
Bryan said Schuster’s testimony left her puzzled. “The man I know wouldn’t have ever said that,” she told Dorr and wondered if he was operating with “full capacity.”
Scheets’ employer, Dr. Tom Dunn, another local veterinarian, said Scheets was a trustworthy employee who excelled at her job. Texas County Sheriff Carl Watson said the Scheets family members were “good, hard-working people” and said he found the defendant to be faithful to family and willing “to do what was right.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Robyn McKee said she didn’t doubt the sincerity of those seeking probation for Scheets, but the facts in the case files painted a different picture.
In a court filing last week, Scheets admitted to:
*Cashing $31,119 in CDs without the authorization of her father.
*Making $25,407 in credit card payments from her father’s business accounts without his authorization for charges she incurred.
*Taking $43,213 in Schuster’s Social Security checks without his authorization.
*Drawing out $25,056 on the victim’s accounts without his permission.
Dorr noted the agreed-upon loss reflected about $100,000 less than what was determined by investigators.
Scheets also admitted that she concealed from her father the fact that she did not file income tax returns or pay Dr. Schuster’s income or personal property taxes from about 1997 to 2007. She admitted representing to her father that his tax returns and income and personal property taxes were being filed and paid in a timely manner. She also shielded Dr. Schuster from “learning the true nature and amount of the accumulated tax liability,” according to her agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office. A pre-sentence investigation report also shows Scheets was convicted with employee theft, a misdemeanor, in 1984 in Reno, Nev., McKee said.
Scheets told the judge she was sorry for her actions. She said she worked hard to juggle the demands of the dental practice and farm to provide her father with a sense of self-worth, but cash from the business wasn’t enough to cover his expenses. Scheets told the judge she regretted not telling her father about his IRS tax shortfalls and for the resulting turmoil occurring in her family. “It has split the family wide open,” she said. Scheets no longer has any relationship with her father, and she told the judge Tuesday it would likely be the last time she would ever see him.
McKee, the federal prosecutor, said the Scheets’ claims of juggling financial accounts to keep Schuster’s affairs afloat didn’t add up, noting that his Social Security checks were cashed and not deposited into the proper account. The actions, McKee alleged, had left Schuster as “a virtual pauper” without insurance after his policies lapsed. Amid sobs in the courtroom, McKee said those gathered weren’t aware of the magnitude of the financial crime. Scheets also must face a county civil suit on credit card debt seeking about $5,100.
The U.S. Bureau of Prisons will assign Scheets’ incarceration venue. McBride asked that the location be a state close to her home.
Shirley Ann Scheets received the sentence in U.S. District Court in Springfield. She also was ordered to serve three years of supervised probation and must pay $124,795 in restitution to her father, Dr. Glen Schuster, a retired dentist.
Scheets must report to prison Aug. 3. She has the right to appeal.
Several Houston residents testified on Scheets’ behalf, and about 85 sent letters to the judge.

Schuster testified against his daughter from a wheelchair. Another relative also testified against Scheets.

Sobs were heard throughout the courtroom as Scheets received her sentence.
The agreed-upon loss triggers an increase in her possible sentence under federal guidelines. She reserved her right to challenge the assessment during her sentencing hearing.
Scheets also admitted that she concealed from her father the fact that she did not file income tax returns or pay Dr. Schuster’s income or personal property taxes from about 1997 to 2007. She admitted representing to her father that his tax returns and income and personal property taxes were being filed and paid in a timely manner. She also shielded Dr. Schuster from “learning the true nature and amount of the accumulated tax liability,” according to her agreement with the U.S. attorney’s office.
Schuster entered a guilty plea in February to taking the $31,000. She was originally indicted by a federal grand jury in April 2009.
Have questions or concerns? Call us toll-free at 888-398-2327 or click the button below.

Contact Us

Content retrieved from–month-prison-sentence-for-stealing-from-father/article_f6402eee-8068-11df-a854-001cc4c03286.html

North Carolina Office Manager Sentenced To 3-4 Years Prison, Pay Restitution In Embezzlement

guy williamsEx-office manager sentenced to prison, pay restitution in embezzlement case
Wednesday, December 16th 2015, 12:38 pm ADT Sunday, December 20th 2015, 12:37 pm ADT By: WECT StaffCONNECT Guy Williams (Content retrieved from New Hanover Co. Jail)WILMINGTON, NC (WECT) –
Guy Williams, a former office administrator with Wilmington Plastic Surgery, was sentenced to prison Wednesday and ordered to pay restitution after pleading guilty to embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from the medical practice.
Former Wilmington Plastic Surgery administrator faces judge for embezzlement charges
Williams was sentenced to 3-4 years in prison, 60 months of probation, and ordered to pay $69,000 in restitution as well as $1,000 in court costs.
Three employees of Wilmington Plastic Surgery took the stand Wednesday to let the court and Williams know how much damage he caused. Dr. Jeff Church said Williams started stealing before he was even hired.
Williams got into a car accident shortly before he joined the practice, and once he was hired, charged his rental car to the company credit card, as well as a $4,000 down payment on his new car. Church said the spending sky-rocketed from there.
Williams spent more than half a million dollars on first class plane tickets to Paris for he and his wife, traffic tickets, delinquent taxes, his daughter’s sweet sixteen party, renovations to his home, and more.
Church said his firm has endured a lot of pain from William’s betrayal and his practice is ready for the closure.”We’re doctors, we want to take care of people, and the time and the effort we had to put into this really made double duty for us to do that, but we didn’t compromise our patient care and we took care of this,” Church said.
Williams started managing the plastic surgery office in 2007 before being fired in 2014, and later arrested.Warrants say Williams stole nearly $400,000 and forged a check for $200,000 with a doctor’s name.Williams faced a judge last year for two counts of embezzling more than or equal to $100,000, two counts of embezzlement, and one count of forgery of endorsement.
According to court officials, he pleaded guilty to 16 counts of embezzlement and one count of forgery of endorsement earlier this month as part of a negotiated plea.

Have questions or concerns? Call us toll-free at 888-398-2327 or click the button below.

Contact Us

Content retrieved from Ex-office manager sentenced to prison, pay restitution in embezz – WECT, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

Washington Dental Office Manager Faces Jail For Falsifying Prescriptions…and Has Done It Before

Nicole Allenton

A Kennewick dental office has closed, due to fallout from a former office manager using computer software to forge numerous pain med prescriptions for herself and others.

44-year-old Nicole B. Allenton could be facing a year in the Benton County Jail when she is sentenced February 24th.

Authorities say American Family Dental practice closed down recently after it was discovered Allenton was forging numerous pain med prescriptions, much to the dismay of the owner and dentist Kevin Osborne.

Officials say Allenton was working as officer manager because she was suspended from her job as a hygienist for similar allegations stemming back several years. She was accused of writing prescriptions and suspended by the Washington State Health Department in 2012 for failing to respond to those allegations.

Allenton, who used the last name of Polus before her divorce, also was accused of using her position of trust and authority to obtain such prescriptions when she worked for Stout Family Dental four years ago. Her actions apparently led to that practice having to rebuild themselves financially.

Officials at American Family Dental discovered at least 15 prescriptions written without the owner-dentist’s approval, many of them to Allenton’s family members. Because she was using the Allenton last name, it was apparently not immediately known about her past at Stout Dental. According to authorities, an anonymous tip was given from someone who recognized her from her previous work at Stout, and the investigation began.

Authorities also say she committed over $700 worth of shoplifting at JC Penney’s at Columbia Center Mall last summer. Allenton has plead guilty to three counts earlier this month, related to the fraud and prescription issues. She already did time on a work crew last year for the shoplifting charges.

Have questions or concerns? Call us toll-free at 888-398-2327 or click the button below.

Contact Us


Read More: Dental Office Worker’s Fraud Forces Kennewick Practice to Close |

Washington Dental Office Manager Gets 7-year Prison Term For Theft Of $560,000

michaelee roehrs e1567101361107


The former office manager of a Hazel Dell dental clinic accused of stealing more than $560,000 from the practice and illegally obtaining prescription painkillers was sentenced Thursday to seven years in prison.

A frail-looking Michaelee Roehrs, 66, pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree theft and seven counts of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud. The charges relate to her embezzling money from Sheron Dental between 2001 and 2008.

As part of a plea agreement, attorneys decided on an exceptional sentence of 84 months. Clark County Superior Court Judge John Wulle imposed the sentence Thursday.

Before sentencing, several people testified about the damage Roehrs’ actions had on the business, both financially and emotionally.

Dentist Richard Sheron detailed the extensive steps Roehrs took in her embezzlement, going so far as to use the names of dead relatives when she forged prescriptions for the narcotic hydrocodone.

She also deposited checks into her personal bank account and offered fake discounts to patients in order to get them to pay with cash, he said.

But the worst thing she did, Sheron said, was violate the trust of the family-owned business.

“For over 20 years, I thought Ms. Roehrs was a trusted friend,” Sheron said as he faced the judge. “But she was a thief.”

That violation of trust was one of the reasons why Clark County sheriff’s Detective Tom Mitchum called it “egregious.”

“It was by far one of the most prolific financial crimes I’ve ever investigated,” he said.

The embezzlement was uncovered in March 2008 after a new office worker looked at the business records and realized something was amiss. The dentist hired a forensic accountant, who could only research records back to 2001, when a new software program was installed.

Sheron Dental won a lawsuit in June 2008 that found Roehrs civilly liable for $562,239. Criminal charges were filed in July.

Roehrs has paid $20,000 so far in restitution, but Clark County Deputy Prosecutor Jeannie Bryant said the victims don’t expect the financially strapped defendant to pay much more.

Roehrs’ court-appointed attorney, Jeff Barrar, called the plea agreement a reasonable conclusion to a case that could have entailed a month long trial.

“For a frail woman of her age in poor health, it might be a life sentence,” he said.

After hearing the victim, the prosecutor and her attorney go into extensive detail about the allegations, Roehrs stood up to have her say. She denied the accusation that she hadn’t shown any remorse.

“I’m very sorry for what I did,” Roehrs said, breaking into tears. “I love Dr. Sheron. I love his family.”

Have questions or concerns? Call us toll-free at 888-398-2327 or click the button below.

Contact Us

Content retrieved from

Embezzlement Takes Many Different Forms — Office Manager At Bronx Practice Performed Unlicensed Dentistry

pretend dentist While the dentist was away, his office manager played one. Valbona Yzeiraj, 45, was arrested Thursday on accusations of masquerading as a dentist at a Bronx dental office and charged in a 13-count indictment with pulling teeth and even performing root canals. The paper-pusher who dubbed herself “Dr. Val” is not a licensed dentist in the state, or anywhere else in the nation. But that didn’t stop her from treating patients for cash. “She inspected patients, she diagnosed patients, she took X-rays, she injected patients with anesthetics, she even gave patients root canals,” Bronx Assistant District Attorney Patrick McCadden said at Yzeiraj’s arraignment Thursday afternoon. Some of her work came with a bite, leaving one patient with an infection from a botched root canal, and another suffering persistent pain two years after treatment, McCadden said. From late 2012 to the summer of 2013, Yzeiraj scheduled appointments at Ultimate Dental Care in Riverdale while the real dentist, Dr. Jeffrey Schoengold, was out of the office. When Schoengold discovered what she was up to, he fired her and reported her to police. “This is a gross betrayal of trust to me and to the community,” Schoengold, 61, told the Daily News outside his second office in White Plains. He said he hired Yzeiraj through Craigslist in 2009 and that he was “shocked” to learn what she was doing behind his back. “There was no record at all,” said Schoengold, a practicing dentist for 34 years. “You hear about things like this. You never think it’s gonna happen to you and here I am and it’s happening.” In a jaw-dropping twist, Yzeiraj tried to pilfer $20,000 from Schoengold’s payroll department after she was canned, prosecutors said. Since the deception, Schoengold has installed cameras in his Bronx office to monitor his employees while he’s away. Yzeiraj, of White Plains, told authorities she had dental training in her native country of Albania. But officials said there’s no evidence she had a lick of training in the United States.
This is a gross betrayal of trust to me and to the community.
McCadden said Yzeiraj targeted members of the Albanian community for her bogus practice, preying “on their vulnerabilities.” She was arraigned Thursday afternoon in Bronx Supreme Court on charges ranging from felony assault to unauthorized practice. She was also charged with felony attempted grand larceny and misdemeanor reckless endangerment. Yzeiraj pleaded not guilty and was ordered held on $20,000 bail. She faces up to seven years in prison if convicted. Justice Steven Barrett barred her from taking any job in the dentistry field for the duration of her case. “She intends to fight each and every one of these charges,” said Yzeiraj’s court-appointed lawyer Corey Sokoler. Yzeiraj’s husband, who attended the arraignment, brushed off the charges as “absurd.” “My wife, operate on people? It made me laugh,” said Petrit Yzeiraj, 49. “She absolutely did not do it.” But Schoengold’s patients didn’t see the humor in the allegations. “Oh boy, that’s pretty crazy. It’s disturbing,” said Jennifer Keenan, 31, a Bronx mother of three, who has visited Schoengold’s office a half-dozen times.
Have questions or concerns? Call us toll-free at 888-398-2327 or click the button below.

Contact Us

Content retrieved from:

Former Office Manager Gets One Year Sentence For Stealing From Maine Orthodontic Office

Sandra Wallace

ROCKLAND, Maine — Sandra Wallace baby-sat her boss’s dog. She got to work early and picked up his mail. She stayed late at the orthodontist’s office and never took a vacation.

So imagine Rockland dentist Robert Rosenberg’s surprise when he found out the woman had stolen $64,194 from him over the years she was his office manager. In some ways, it made sense to him because money always had seemed tight.

“It just seemed like there was never enough money to pay the bills. And I’m an orthodontist,” Rosenberg said.

Wallace was sentenced to serve one year and one day in federal prison after she pleaded guilty to health care fraud in U.S. District Court, according to court documents filed Tuesday. Wallace also will have to pay back the $64,194 she stole from Rosenberg’s office.

According to court documents, Rosenberg complained to police last December that Wallace, who had worked for him 1993-2010, had written company checks to herself and forged his signature on them over the course of two years.

“She never took a vacation. I thought that made her a great employee. She was there first thing in the morning. She stayed late at night. It turned out it was because she didn’t want me to find out anything,” Rosenberg said Wednesday.

The affidavit filed by Brian Pellerin, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, lists several incidents of thefts since 2008. Wallace had been writing checks to herself but covering her tracks by making it look like the money was paid for office expenses. The detective verified this by getting bank images of the checks.

Rockland police interviewed Wallace, and according to the federal court documents, “Wallace admitted to signing Dr. A’s name to checks she deposited into her own account without Dr. A’s permission or knowledge.”

For the orthodontist, Wallace’s actions have changed the way he runs his three-employee business.

“I used to think it was a luxury for someone else to get your mail, open your mail and put it in a neat pile on your desk. Now I do that myself. Now I get all the bills; I pay the bills,” he said. “The only thing I can say is you have to be in control of everything. Monitor everything. Even then, I think people can steal from you.”

He’s trying not to think about it too much.

“I don’t let it get me down. There’s nothing I can do about it. When it comes down to it, I’m responsible for it.”

Wallace, 55, of Rockland was sentenced for one count of health care fraud Tuesday. The punishment for that crime can be up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Wallace must report to prison by June 22.

Calls to Wallace’s attorney were unsuccessful.

Have questions or concerns? Call us toll-free at 888-398-2327 or click the button below.

Contact Us

Content retrieved from:

Two Employees In New Jersey Dental Office Plead Guilty In Theft Of $200,000

arlene-marchese-karen-wright Two former employees of a Haledon dental office admitted on Monday that they stole $200,000 from their employer. Arlene Marchese, 35, of Wayne, and Karen Wright, 44, of Wyckoff, worked at Belmont Dental Associates for more than a decade, beginning in the late 1990s. Marchese, who was the office manager, and Wright, a dental hygienist, said Monday in state Superior Court in Paterson that they diverted insurance payments to their employer for six years, from 2005 to 2011. In separate guilty pleas before Judge Greta Gooden Brown, the two women admitted that the payments were made by insurance companies in a series of checks for services rendered at the dental office. Marchese and Wright said they were authorized to receive those checks and deposit them in the business account of Belmont Dental Associates, but instead deposited the money in another account and used the money for their own purposes. The two women were charged in 2012 after Dr. Dominick Lembo, who owns the dental office, called an insurance company to inquire about payments that he should have received, and eventually discovered the thefts. As part of the plea deal, Marchese and Wright agreed to make restitution of $200,000 and will receive probation when they are sentenced May 2, said Jay McCann, an assistant Passaic County prosecutor. The agreement requires the two women to make a payment of $20,000 each on Monday and $5,000 each on their day of sentencing, McCann said. They will also pay $1,000 a month during their probation until the remaining balance is paid off, he said. Defense attorneys Robert Galluccio and Mark Musella told the judge that the $20,000 that each defendant is required to pay on Monday has already been placed in attorney trust accounts and that Lembo will receive the payment on the same day. Lembo, who attended the hearing on Monday, said later that he was pleased with the outcome of the plea agreement. “I am happy to see justice being served,” he said. Lembo said he was in “complete and total shock” when he found out that two longtime employees that he trusted were taking money from him. “They were paid well,” he said. “They were rewarded handsomely. And yet they stole.”
Have questions or concerns? Call us toll-free at 888-398-2327 or click the button below.

Contact Us

Content retrieved from:

Stiff Sentence In Florida – Woman Gets 20 Years For Embezzling


Cassandra Jean Lorenzi had rejected a plea bargain for a year in jail, saying she wanted probation and to pay off restitution

By Aisling Swift

A former Naples dental office manager who embezzled about $220,000 over nearly two years left her sentence in the hands of a judge. Cassandra Jean Lorenzi, 38, of Fort Myers, rejected a plea bargain to a year in the county jail because she didn’t want to lose her new job. She had hoped she could serve probation and pay off restitution. To test how intent Lorenzi was in paying her former employer, Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Naples, Collier Circuit Judge Fred Hardt gave her a chance, holding off sentencing for six months to see how much she’d pay. That six-month deadline ended Monday, when Hardt learned she’d paid nothing until handing over a $6,000 check Thursday. The judge also learned the extent of her scheme may have been far more than her restitution amount and Lorenzi wasn’t taking responsibility, but was blaming her manic depression and her employer for manipulating her. So Hardt sent Lorenzi to a state prison for 20 years ? shocking everyone, even the prosecutor. “It will put fear in the heart of people who are inclined to steal, especially the employees with a fiduciary duty to their employers,” said Assistant State Attorney Jerry Brock, who prosecutes crimes for the Economic Crimes Unit. “Even after we interviewed her, she went down to the bank to try to take more money out. She was brazen.” Dr. Dawn Marie Arena, who built the dental practice since 1997 with her then-husband, Dr. Marcelo Mattschei, was glad to see a resolution after two prior attempts at sentencings. “It’s finally over, thank God,” Arena said as she left court with her attorney, Yale Freeman, who filed lawsuits against Lorenzi, her husband, Neil, former office assistant Claudia Digirolamo, and two banks. “It’s been six years long in coming.” Arena said the home the Lorenzis purchased with the stolen money was sold, but the practice received nothing and has since folded, leaving six employees jobless, and she and her husband divorced. “When tragedies come in, unfortunately bad things happen. I take this as a learning experience,” Arena said, declining to say where she’s working now. Lorenzi’s attorney, Peter Aiken, declined comment, as did her mother. Lorenzi pleaded no contest Oct. 22 to scheme to defraud involving $50,000 or more and turned down Brock’s plea offer for a year in jail. The first-degree felony is punishable by up to 30 years in a state prison, and the judge was told Lorenzi had no prior felonies. But Monday, Brock told the judge she had two prior felonies, including a gross cheat-fraud case in Indiana. Lorenzi, who has been free on $50,000 bond, was arrested by Collier County Sheriff’s Office investigators Sept. 12, 2006, after Mattschei reported that she was stealing from his office and patients’ accounts. He said his wife received a phone call from Judy Cramer, a Household Bank representative, who was suspicious of an account Lorenzi maintained. Cramer said the only transactions were credit deposits withdrawn from the practice’s SunTrust account. Cramer said she’d been calling for several months, but Lorenzi intercepted the calls, so she called Arena’s home. Records say Lorenzi overcharged patients, creating two bills ? a legitimate one and one patients weren’t aware of. The second acted as a customer credit and was deposited with Household Bank or Bank One. Cramer said she believed money also was transferred from a SunTrust account to the other accounts. At a prior hearing, Lorenzi told Hardt “all the doctors were doing it.” When Cpl. Richard Stoneson interviewed Lorenzi on Feb. 18, 2004, she was carrying SunTrust statements, patient checks and other items belonging to the practice. The investigation showed she embezzled from Aug. 26, 2002, to March 1, 2004. On Monday, Freeman told Hardt that Circuit Judge Cynthia Ellis will be signing a consent judgment against Lorenzi for $220,000. He said Lorenzi and her husband used the money to purchase a home and Lorenzi also stole patients’ identities through their credit card numbers and diverted about $350,000, including thousands of dollars belonging to a man in London. Freeman said the dental practice was fortunate because patients didn’t sue. Brock said investigators looked into the credit fraud but said the scheme was too confusing because Lorenzi took money out, returned it, took it out again months later, and returned it, back and forth. Brock said she also handed out discounts without the dentists’ knowledge if patients paid in cash. Freeman said Lorenzi had an “obstructionist attitude” and refused to cooperate, causing the practice to spend more than $70,000 in legal fees fighting her. Arena urged the judge to impose the maximum, telling him, “During the course of the investigation, Ms. Lorenzi never cooperated or had remorse. The trust of our patient base was damaged.” Aiken denied Freeman’s contentions that Lorenzi didn’t cooperate, saying she intended to hand over $2,500, but used it to hire an attorney. He said early on, she paid $20,000 and only agreed to pay $80,000 in restitution because others were involved. “The last six months for her have been tough because she’s been through a divorce and a serious depression,” Aiken said. Lorenzi blamed manic depression, saying she was diagnosed at age 21, and that she doesn’t handle money well, so she’d turn over her paycheck to her parents, who would be paying restitution and handling her finances. She contended she’d made “every effort” to pay restitution, including selling property for $25,000 and turning over that and an additional $7,500 before last week. “It was not being able to handle my own finances that led to my problems,” Lorenzi told the judge, blaming Mattschei for giving her too much responsibility when she had no experience. “The checks did go into my account, but the checks going into my account at the start were at his hand. He created a system for not just me, but for others in the office.” She told Hardt he manipulated her. Although Arena sought the maximum, Brock asked only for a substantial term, while Aiken urged probation, or a lenient term of incarceration. But Hardt likened the case to that of Lorraine Afshari, who created a fake mortgage company, scammed dozens of investors out of $211,000, and then blamed friends for helping her start a business even though she was mentally ill. Last year, Hardt sent her to prison for 25 years. “That was another case where the defendant is still in total denial, blaming other people,” Hardt said, adding, “It is the sentence of this court that you be committed to the Department of Corrections for 20 years.” ________________ Here was a lot of money being deposited into the personal savings account that should have raised suspicion something wasn’t quite right. Likewise, how the checks were made out to the receiving parties should have prompted some inquiry, according to the attorney representing a Naples dentistry practice in a lawsuit against the bank that deposited the checks. The lawsuit filed by Aesthetic & Implant Dentistry of Naples against Colonial Bank says the bank failed to detect a scheme by two employees of the practice who the suit claims stole more than $90,000 from the dentists and deposited the money in their personal account, according to the lawsuit. The scheme began in 2002 and lasted three years, the suit says. “The people who were operating the scheme were having the patients leave (the pay to the order of) blank and they would put in their own names,” said Naples attorney Yale Freeman, who represents the dentist practice. “The (bank) computers should have generated a report that this is too much money.” The dentist practice in North Naples employed Claudia Digirolamo as a dental assistant and Cassandra Lorenzi as an office manager, according to the lawsuit. Lorenzi’s duties included handling billing, payment receipt, credit applications and day-to-day operations of the practice. During the course of their employment, Lorenzi and Digirolamo orchestrated a scheme where they stole checks from the practice and funneled the checks into a personal savings account at Colonial in Lorenzi’s name or that of her husband, Neil R. Lorenzi, according to the lawsuit. The checks had been payable to the dentist practice and altered, or they were made out to the Lorenzis followed by the coding “EFDA” or something similar, according to the lawsuit. The bank was “on notice” of the alteration since the alteration was clear in the face of the check, according to the complaint. Colonial is fighting the lawsuit on the basis of whether the bank can be held responsible for the alleged activities of individuals who aren’t employees of the bank, said David Byrne, general counsel for Colonial, headquartered in Montgomery, Ala. The fraud against the dentist practice began in 2002 and was discovered Feb. 18, 2004, when a group of checks were found in Cassandra Lorenzi’s purse that had been taken from the dentist practice, according to the lawsuit A criminal investigation is pending, said Sgt. Dave White, an investigator with the Economic Crimes Unit of the Collier County Sheriff’s Office. The negligence lawsuit against Colonial initially was filed in Collier Circuit Court and moved earlier this month to federal court in Fort Myers. The lawsuit likely will be bounced back to circuit court, Freeman said. A similar lawsuit against BankOne earlier this year involving deposits made by the same individuals was resolved recently for $28,000 when the bank agreed to return the money to the dentists, Freeman said.
Have questions or concerns? Call us toll-free at 888-398-2327 or click the button below.

Contact Us

Content retrieved from