Michigan office manager convicted of embezzlement, drug charges

Vicki Zachary.jpg

A Dowagiac woman will spend about half-a-year in jail for stealing money and drugs from the dentist’s office where she worked.

That’s according to the Niles Daily Star.

Vicki Zachary, 45, was sentenced to 180 days, or roughly six months, behind bars, and five years’ probation, after she pleaded guilty to felony embezzlement and ten charges of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.

Zachary admitted to stealing between $200 to $300 a couple times a week over a period of several years while working as an office manager at Burling and Gillesby.

That added up to a total of nearly $150,000. She also confessed to calling in fraudulent prescriptions for drugs and then keeping them for herself.

As a condition of her plea agreement, Zachary also agreed to repay the stolen money.

Content retrieved from: http://www.wndu.com/home/headlines/Dowagiac-woman-sentenced-after-embezzling-money-from-a-dentists-office-208015941.html


 

DOWAGIAC, MI — A 45-year-old Dowagiac woman accused of stealing money — and the authority to order Vicodin– from the dentist’s office she managed for 15 years turned herself in to authorities Jan. 2 and now faces felony drug and embezzling charges.

Vicki Zachary, of 304 Gray St., is being charged with embezzlement of between $50,000 and $100,000 from Burling and Gillesby, DDS, P.C., a felony punishable by up to 15 years in prison, according to a news release from Cass County Prosecutor Victor Fitz and Dowagiac Director of Public Safety Tom Atkinson.

In addition, Zachary is accused of 10 times using false authorization from the office to obtain a controlled substance, hydrocodone. That resulted in 10 counts of Obtaining by Fraud a Controlled Substance.

Cass County assistant prosecutor Tiffiny Vahwinkle said the alleged embezzlement and drug purchases related to the specific charges were from September 2011 through December 2012. Police are investigating whether incidents may have gone back further, Dowagiac Deputy Chief Steve Grinnewald said.

Grinnewald said Zachary came under investigation after a Van Buren County pharmacy contacted the dentist’s office questioning a prescription Zachary tried to have filled. The office contacted police, who found 33 prescriptions, for 30-day supply of pills, under Zachary’s name or names of her various relatives, the deputy police chief said.

The dentist’s office, upon investigation, determined that money was missing, too, and began an audit that became the basis for the embezzlement charge, Grinnewald said.

He said that police do not know where the money allegedly embezzled by Zachary went, and that it appears the pills were for her personal use.

Bond was set at $25,000 cash/surety on the embezzlement charge and $10,000 for the controlled substance charge. Zachary is scheduled to be arraigned on the charges, which were authorized by the prosecutor’s office, at 9 a.m. Jan. 16 in front of District Court Judge Stacey Rentfrow.

Content retrieved from: http://www.mlive.com/news/kalamazoo/index.ssf/2013/01/dowagiac_dental_office_manager.html

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Embezzlement series: Part 3

While Dr. Charles Burling was filling teeth, his 15-year office employee was embezzling $150,000 of his Dowagiac dental practice’s money.

By Kathy Jessup
EDITOR’S NOTE: This is the third story in our six-part series, “Other Peoples’ Money.” Today the Journal talks to a victim who lost $150,000.

While Dr. Charles Burling was filling teeth, his 15-year office employee was embezzling $150,000 of his Dowagiac dental practice’s money.

Over several years, in more than 400 thefts, the money disappeared.

“I had a sense that something wasn’t right for almost two years,” Burling said. “We wanted to upgrade our X-ray machines but there never seemed to be the extra money to do that. I had our accounting firm look into it and they found nothing really glaring. She had hidden things pretty well.”

Despite good business, the practice also had to freeze staff wages.

“She was walking out with the gals’ raises and we didn’t know it. That had a pretty negative impact on the staff.”

Burling said his staff was shocked to learn the woman was losing her car and her home, despite earning “pretty good money.”

Finally it was the prescription pad rather than the accounting ledger that sparked scrutiny.

“The thing that got the investigation rolling was the discovery that she was also calling in prescriptions for herself, using her husband and her children’s names,” Burling recalled. “She was let go while those charges were being investigated and then someone else saw the financial things she had done.”

For her crime, the convicted felon, a first-time offender, was sentenced to six months in the Cass County Jail, serving only about four, according to Burling, based on good conduct during incarceration.

Burling said the practice received $25,000 from its insurance coverage, all of it spent on accountants who ferreted out the losses and reconstructed the practice’s accounts.

Burling expects to recover none of the $150,000 from the embezzler.

His experience supports justice critics who argue embezzlement sentencing is an ineffective deterrent.

“This woman was serving months in jail for embezzling about the same amount of money she was earning in a year,” he said, referring to her four months of time served.

The long-time, trusted office manager had been pocketing cash payments made to the practice, then used insurance checks to make the books balance.

Besides a drug addiction, the woman had also turned to gambling, hoping a big win at area casinos would provide the cash to pay back the money she was stealing. Later, when confronted with reconstructed accounts showing she had taken $150,000, Burling said the woman did not believe her theft had amounted to that much.
“Probably the thing that hurts the most is that this person had really become part of our family in that 15 years,” Burling said. “But when the poop hits the fan, you have to get over that quickly and realize that person doesn’t give a rip about you or they wouldn’t have stolen from you.”

In many respects, the Dowagiac dental practice case is stereotypical of the national embezzlement experience. The perpetrators are more likely to be women than men, although men tend to take larger amounts, studies show.

This perpetrator was a first-time offender who was highly trusted by her long-time employers. The Marquet Report on Embezzlement found “less than 5 percent of major embezzlers have a prior criminal history.”

Burling said an official at the Michigan Dental Association has indicated 65 percent of the state’s practices eventually will be the victims of embezzlement. The Heckman Group, a Holland medical management firm, estimates that in any five-year period, 80 percent of all medical practices will experience embezzlement.

So if embezzlement is so widespread, why are there not more prosecutions?

Probably for the same reason it’s difficult to find an individual or organization willing to talk publicly about their experience. Often the reason is shame and to protect a business reputation.

“Maybe more harmful was the loss in the confidence our patients had in us,” Burling acknowledged. “We had some people come to us and tell us, ‘If you can’t run a business, I don’t have confidence in you.’ I had to say to some of them, ‘Look, I’ve been fixing your teeth for the last 35 years. I guess you think I can do that.’.”

 


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.sturgisjournal.com/article/20141022/NEWS/141029761

Texas embezzler steals $353k, sentenced to 15 years

Updated 12:41 am, Wednesday, June 19, 2013
 A dental office manager was sentenced to 15 years in prison Tuesday for embezzling $353,000 from her employer, squandering it on items that ranged from a Beyoncé concert to a limousine ride to a church.

Misty Casanova, 34, also is alleged to have spent the money on Lil Wayne and Chamillionaire concerts, Spurs games, a monster truck rally, a quinceañera, multiple hair appointments and to pay for a divorce. In addition, she transferred more than $900 to her boyfriend’s prison commissary account, court documents state.

Assistant District Attorney Trey Banack told state District Judge Ron Rangel that Casanova stole from Dr. Fred Seitz roughly 600 times from 2006 to 2010 — filling out checks for cash to herself and using company credit cards.

He asked the judge to assess a 20-year term — the maximum under a plea agreement reached in March. Theft of more than $200,000 is a first-degree felony, usually punishable by up to life in prison. Casanova sought probation.

“She is committed to trying to make payments for that restitution,” defense attorney Jesus Lopez told the judge. “She has a great deal of remorse for her actions.”

But to pay the entire amount back in 10 years — the maximum period of probation — she would have to pay back more than $35,000 per year, the judge pointed out.

Seitz, who owns Seitz Dental Associates on Blanco Road, said that if he couldn’t receive all of the money back, he would prefer to see his former office manager go to prison. The thefts were “devastating” and have caused him to lose respect from family and colleagues, he said.

“They just look at me and say, ‘How could you be so naïve?’” Seitz told the judge.

The dentist also allowed Casanova to rent his old house so her children could attend Churchill High, he said. The home was left “a disaster” when she moved out, prosecutors said, explaining she left behind four cats and a rabbit.

Seitz said he spent $5,000 and months’ worth of nights and weekends restoring the home.

 


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

http://www.mysanantonio.com/news/local_news/article/Dental-office-s-embezzler-gets-prison-4607362.php

Wisconsin woman accused of stealing $140k from dental office — had prior embezzlement conviction

Woman accused of stealing tens of thousands from dental office

UPDATED 7:24 PM CST Dec 10, 2014

GREENFIELD, Wis. —A 51-year-old woman is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars from a dental office in Greenfield while working as its office manager.

Tishia Jaeck might have gambled away some that cash, police said.

Unbeknownst to Greenfield’s Progressive Periodontics, its business manager is now accused of quietly siphoning tens of thousands of dollars a year that should have been going to the practice.

“They’re looking at about a $140,000 loss,” Greenfield Assistant Police Chief Paul Schlecht said.

Greenfield police said Jaeck would encourage patients to pay with cash and would then pocket the money, covering her tracks.

“She encouraged them to pay with cash to get a 3 percent discount because this scheme wouldn’t work with a check or credit card,” Schlecht said. “She would print out a receipt and then go back into the software and delete it. That way, the patient’s bill would show up that it’s paid. The patient would get their receipt, but the dental office never got the money.”

Once prosecutors got the case from Greenfield police, they did some more digging, which that led them to a dental office in West Allis. They learned that Jaeck was convicted of doing the same thing there just a few years earlier.

In the West Allis case, she was accused of taking nearly $20,000 in a similar scheme.

“We find that all the time that the person doing the embezzlement is a very trusted loyal employee that you would never suspect. And that’s why they get away with it,” Schlecht said.

Jaeck refused to answer any police questions about where the money might have gone, but prosecutors subpoenaed her Players Club records for Potowatomi Casino and found that she lost $50,000 over the nearly three years that she worked at the dental office.

According to the complaint, the embezzlement took place for most of Jaeck’s employment — from 2011 until April.

She remains free on bail. If Jaeck is convicted of three felony counts of theft and fraud, she could face more than 20 years in prison.

The dental office said no patients suffered financial damages.

 


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

Former cancer care office manager admits embezzling $1.6 million from Massachusetts practice

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.

roxanne-tubolino

 

SPRINGFIELD — The former office manager of a medical practice in Northampton pleaded guilty in U.S. District Court to embezzling $1.6 million from the group over five years, and shielding the lion’s share of the theft under purported supplies for cancer care.

Roxanne Tubolino, 55, of Belchertown, pleaded guilty to wire fraud and six counts of tax evasion. She faces a maximum prison sentence of 20 years, but will more likely be exposed to just over five years behind bars under advisory sentencing guidelines.

Tubolino dabbed at her eyes and admitted to the counts in a small voice. In the courtroom were her mother and Dr. Deborah Smith, the lone oncologist at the four-member Northampton Internal Medicine Associates in Florence.

“I bore the brunt of it,” Smith said after the hearing, referring to the scheme that stretched back seven years. “Most of the theft, she wrote off as supplies and medication for chemotherapy. I guess it was a good place to hide it.”

Smith said patient care did not suffer – only her bottom line did. Federal prosecutors say Tubolino was responsible for keeping the books at the office, and wrote off thousands of dollars each month to “oncology supplies” and other medical expenses. Meanwhile, she was paying off purchases on her Visa Black Card and other credit cards, according to the government.

“She wrote hundreds of checks to pay her personal credit card bills,” Assistant U.S. Attorney Steven H. Breslow said, detailing the purchases. “Cash advances, clothing stores, restaurants and entertainment venues.”

Prosecutors and Smith said she discovered the discrepancies and confronted Tubolino in 2013.

Tubolino “admitted to another physician … that she had basically been stealing” from the practice, Breslow told U.S. District Judge Mark G. Mastroianni.

After the plea hearing, Smith said she is still trying to financially pick up the pieces at the practice. She also has sued Tubolino in Hampshire Superior Court over the embezzlement, and the defendant agreed to pay restitution as part of her plea agreement.

“We’re working at it,” Smith said. “But you know … it’s not cancer.”

Tubolino’s sentencing hearing is scheduled for April 16.

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: Former cancer care office manager admits embezzling $1.6 million from Northampton practice | masslive.com

Indictment Charges Illinois Woman with Embezzling $190,000 from Dental Practice

 

Peoria, Ill. – A federal grand jury today charged a Tazewell county woman with embezzling approximately $190,000 from a dental practice where she had worked for nearly 16 years. Constance (“Connie”) Gustafson, 53, of Hopedale, Ill., was charged with seven counts of mail fraud and four counts each of misapplication of funds relating to health care and theft relating to health care, as announced by U.S. Attorney Jim Lewis, Central District of Illinois.

According to the indictment, starting at least as early as 2006 and continuing to February 2014, Gustafson stole cash payments made by patients.  To encourage patients to pay cash, Gustafson allegedly offered discounts, sometimes as much as 40 and 50 percent.  The indictment alleges that on some occasions, she provided patients with receipts, but did not record the payments in the practice’s computer system or on the patients’ ledgers.  On other occasions, she provided receipts and documented the payment in the computer system but then deleted the entries.  It is also alleged that she concealed her theft of cash by applying insurance payments received for patients with insurance coverage to patients’ accounts which she had used to take cash.  On some occasions Gustafson deleted dental procedures from patient records.  As alleged, the defendant deposited the cash into her credit union account and used it for her personal benefit.

If convicted, the maximum statutory penalty for each count of mail fraud is up to 20 years in prison and up to 10 years in prison for each count of embezzlement or theft in connection with health care.

The case is being prosecuted by Supervisory Assistant U.S. Attorney Darilynn J. Knauss of the Peoria office.  The charges are the result of an investigation by the Federal Bureau of Investigation.

The defendant will be given a notice to appear in federal court on a date to be determined by the U.S. Clerk of the Court.

Members of the public are reminded that an indictment is merely an accusation; the defendant is presumed innocent unless proven guilty.

 


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: Indictment Charges Hopedale Woman with Embezzling $190,000 from Dental Practice | USAO-CDIL | Department of Justice

Wyoming woman sentenced in embezzlement case; victim frustrated with slow repayment

A former Laramie Dental Arts employee accused of embezzling more than $40,000 was sentenced Thursday to eight years of supervised probation and ordered to repay the stolen money.

Kristina Margaret Meuchel

Posted: Friday, October 16, 2015 5:00 am

 

A former Laramie Dental Arts employee accused of embezzling more than $40,000 was sentenced Thursday to eight years of supervised probation and ordered to repay the stolen money.

Kristina Margaret Meuchel, 39, was charged with one felony count of wrongful taking or disposing of property. She initially pleaded not guilty to the charge in April, but later pleaded guilty at a change of plea hearing in July.

In a statement to the court Thursday, Meuchel said her actions were “selfish” and apologized to Dr. Troy Knaub, Laramie Dental Arts owner, from “the bottom of (her) heart.”

“It was wrong, I’m ashamed and I’m sorry for my actions,” she said.

Defense attorney Tom Fleener requested a sentence of probation, arguing Meuchel was a first-time offender and wouldn’t be able to pay the full amount of restitution if she were incarcerated. At the time of the sentencing hearing, his client had $4,000 in restitution available, he said.

“I was hard on her,” he said. “She needs to pay that money back.”

Prosecuting attorney Robert Sanford agreed with this reasoning, requesting a period of five years of probation with a suspended sentence of three-six years in prison.

“The state is pleased that she did come in today with some amount,” he said.

District Court Judge Jeffrey Donnell opted to prioritize restitution, ordering a sentence of eight years of supervised probation with a suspended sentence of four-eight years of incarceration, a punishment he viewed as “minimally appropriate.” He ordered Meuchel to repay a total of $41,205.23 through payments of at least $500 each month, write a letter of apology and compile a list of office records that were deleted within 30 days.

“That is the only reason you’re not going away today,” he told her.

According to a Laramie Police Department affidavit, an officer met with Laramie Dental Arts staff Jan. 28 following a report of possible embezzlement at the office.

Knaub told police an employee of Dentrix — a dental software company — alerted him to multiple suspect transactions on office audit reports, almost all of which were under Meuchel’s code, the affidavit states. Knaub and an office assistant said no one at Laramie Dental Arts knew other employees’ Dentrix passwords, not even Knaub.

Meuchel was employed as Laramie Dental Arts’ office manager from June 2012-January 2015, when she abruptly resigned from her position, according to the affidavit. Prior to leaving, Knaub told police, she started shredding a large number of documents.

An audit dated from June 2012-December 2014 showed a number of payment irregularities, including changed dates and deleted and reposted payments, which were posted and altered under Meuchel’s code, the affidavit states. Many of the accompanying deposit slips indicated no cash or little cash was deposited on the corresponding payment dates.

The total suspected theft was roughly $41,093.

Knaub said Thursday he was considering pursuing civil action against Meuchel to recover wages, claiming she conducted personal business on the clock and destroyed hundreds of Microsoft Word and Excel documents. The destroyed documents did not affect patients, he said.

“I was paying her a very, very good wage, and she was not doing her job,” he said.

He said Meuchel should feel fortunate she wouldn’t spend time behind bars and hoped she could abide by the terms of the sentencing.

“I think the judge and the county attorneys did an exceptional job and I really respect their judgment and the direction that things went,” he said.

In court Thursday, Donnell warned Meuchel there would be consequences if she stole again.

“If you get caught doing this again, pack your toothbrush, ’cause you’re off to the penitentiary,” he said.

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Laramie Dental Arts owner frustrated with slow restitution payment

Months after a former employee was sentenced for embezzling more than $40,000 from Laramie Dental Arts, the business has received restitution payments significantly lower than the amount ordered by the court.

In October, Kristina Margaret Meuchel, 40, was sentenced to eight years of supervised probation, with an underlying sentence of 4-8 years incarceration, and ordered to pay back $41,205.23 in monthly installments of $500.

At that sentencing hearing, defense attorney Tom Fleener said his client had brought $4,000 in payment for restitution.

According to court records, a payment of $3,750 was filed Oct. 16, but in the following months, Laramie Dental Arts only received a $125 payment Nov. 30 and a $200 payment Dec. 31.

In a motion filed Nov. 6, Fleener requested a modification of the restitution plan on behalf of his client, arguing Meuchel was currently unemployed and expected to be able to pay after receiving her cosmetology degree.

The motion asked Meuchel be allowed to make a “nominal restitution payment” of $100 per month, but District Court Judge Jeffrey Donnell denied the motion Nov. 30, citing the amount of restitution to be paid.

Dr. Troy Knaub, Laramie Dental Arts owner, said he was frustrated with the amount of payment his office had received, as it could take at least twice as long as anticipated to recover the full amount of restitution if payments continued at the current rate. That amount stolen from his office could have “destroyed a business,” he said.

“Who is holding this woman accountable?” he asked. “She stole more than $40,000 from me. The courts decide to let her move to Colorado, begin her whole new life. Now I’m sitting here and I can’t figure out who I’m going to talk to, who’s going to make her accountable.”

His sentiments were echoed by co-office manager Chris Miller, who questioned what small business owners in the community could do if they encountered a comparable situation.

“I feel like we’re intelligent people who think for ourselves, and it’s shocking,” she said. “I’m shocked, as a 44-year-old human being, that if a judge mandates something that isn’t followed through on.”

In a letter to Donnell written in December, Knaub noted the judge stated during the sentencing hearing the only reason she wasn’t sent to prison was so she could pay restitution to her former employer.

“My frustration level is very high and at this point, I feel her actions show she will never properly repay the stolen money,” the letter states. “Based on this feeling and the tone she’s set for repayments, I would like to see your originally preferred sentencing of jail time instituted as you only avoided this route for the ease of repayment.”

Dasa Robertson, director of the Albany County Crime Victim/Witness Program, said probation and parole officers typically take into account whether the offender is making an effort to pay.

“As long as she’s making some restitution, they won’t revoke her probation,” she said.

According to court documents, Meuchel was Laramie Dental Arts’ office manager from June 2012-January 2015, when she abruptly resigned from her position; before she left, Knaub told police, she started shredding a large number of documents.

An audit from June 2012-December 2014 revealed a number of payment irregularities, including changed dates and deleted and reposted payments altered under Meuchel’s code, documents state, and many of the accompanying deposit slips indicated deposits of no cash or little cash on the corresponding payment dates.

The total suspected theft was roughly $41,093.

Outside of the financial loss, the theft has had a significant emotional effect on both Laramie Dental Arts employees and their families, Knaub said.

“It’s kind of emotionally draining, having to constantly think about it and wonder if justice is going to be served,” he said. “It was a year of putting together data and information, which was completely exhausting … we had to keep proving, and proving and proving that she was the one that did it, and finally she had a change of plea. It’s just been an emotional roller-coaster, and quite honestly I want to be done thinking about it, but I feel like I can’t, because the state’s not taking the appropriate measures to make sure she’s held accountable.”

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.laramieboomerang.com/news/local_news/laramie-dental-arts-owner-frustrated-with-slow-restitution-payment/article_a1e7c10c-b8ea-11e5-9ea9-972b6cbc2290.html

Police: Pennsylvania dentist’s office manager stole $27K — Had previous record

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

 

Clarks Summit police charged the former office manager of a borough dentist this week with stealing nearly $27,000 from her employer.

Leah Marie Price, 41, 821 Mehan St., Dickson City, secretly created a second credit card in her name when her boss, Charles Dennis, DDS, filled out paperwork to open an American Express business account, Officer Edward Orzalek wrote in a criminal complaint.

“It’s frustrating when you really trust someone and treat them like family,” Dr. Dennis said.

In November, American Express contacted him and said they were stopping the account because of “flags.” He learned his “second card” had made 63 percent of the account’s purchases. He had no idea about a second card.

Dr. Dennis confronted Ms. Price and she admitted she made personal purchases. She wrote a statement and said it was an “accident” and she made the purchases because she was “stuck in a corner” and “panicked.” Dr. Dennis fired her.

She agreed to pay the amount she stole, which she said was $7,000, in lieu of criminal charges. Dr. Dennis had an accountant, Paul J. Cobb, go over the statements and found that Ms. Price paid different credit cards not owned by the business by charging them to the business card in the amount of $26,925.33. Officer Orzalek and Police Chief Chris Yarns met with Dr. Dennis, Mr. Cobb and Dr. Dennis’ attorney, Jason Mattioli, on Friday to report the theft.

Dr. Dennis did not know Ms. Price’s history, he said.

Prior guilty plea

Ms. Price pleaded guilty in August 2012 to one misdemeanor count of theft by unlawful taking. The plea deal dropped one felony receiving stolen property charge and 29 felony forgery charges on accusations by detectives in the Lackawanna County district attorney’s office that she stole $18,716.25 from Linwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Scranton, where she worked as a business office manager. Detectives said during her September 2011 arrest that she submitted insurance bills for payment of five people who did not work at the facility over the course of one year.

County Judge Vito Geroulo sentenced her to three years of probation on Feb. 6, 2013.

Dr. Dennis learned of the crime after the new charges had been filed, he said.

Ms. Price is charged with forged credit cards, theft by unlawful taking and receiving stolen property, each felonies. Bail was set at $25,000 and a preliminary hearing was scheduled for Tuesday.

Contact the writer:

leah-price

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Abington Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry office manager Leah Price arraigned on charges of allegedly paying personal bills with company credit card

 By Elizabeth Baumeister – ebaumeister@timesleader.com

Leah Price, an office manager at Abington Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry, 116 N. State St., Clarks Summit, was arraigned on theft charges for allegedly using a company credit card, owned by Charles W. Dennis, DMD, to pay off $26,925.33 worth of personal credit card bills.
Elizabeth Baumeister | Abington Journal

UPDATED: 3:10 p.m.

CLARKS SUMMIT — An office manager at the Abington Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry was arraigned on theft charges Dec. 9 by Senior Magistrate John D. Whitesell, Chinchilla, according to borough Police Chief Christopher Yarns.

According to the criminal complaint, Leah Marie Price, 41, of Dickson City, is charged with using a company credit card, owned by Charles W. Dennis, DMD, to pay off $26,925.33 worth of personal credit card bills. Price was taken to the Lackawanna County Jail, with bail set at $25,000.

According to Dennis, Price was employed at the office for about one-and-a-half years before the incident unravelled and she was fired.

“I feel violated,” said the dentist. “It was a valued employee that I’ve trusted with, obviously, my personal and my office finances, and that I helped out many times personally to help her better herself, being a single mother. And her working literally an arm’s length away from me and steeling from me, after I paid her very well.”

The affidavit states Yarns and Patrolman Edward Orzalek met with Dennis, his accountant Paul J. Cobb and his attorney Jason Mattioli at his office at 116 N. State St. on Friday, Dec. 4 to review findings of the accountant’s investigation into a credit card.

“We were informed that sometime in September of this year, Dennis’ office manager/employee (the defendant) spoke to him about opening up a credit card for the business,” reads the affidavit. “He states she wanted to open one that had ‘miles reward,’ and she helped him open an American Express Gold Business account. He stated she filled out the paperwork and then had him sign the contract and sent it back. At that time without his knowledge, the suspect Price opened a second charge card on the account under her name.”

According to the affidavit, Dennis later received a call from the credit card company regarding the deactivation of the card due to “flags.” When he confronted Price, she allegedly told him she used the card for numerous personal items on “accident” and was also using it to pay off other cards. She then agreed to pay Dennis $7,000 in lieu of the charges being pressed.

Dennis then decided to have his accountant go over the statements. During his review, Cobb discovered the $26,925.33 worth of payments to various other cards not owned by the business.

Dennis said he also learned during the process that Price has a criminal record, including charges of check forgery while working as an office manager at Linwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Scranton. He said he regrets his failure to properly research the former employee’s history before hiring her.

According to a Lackawanna County Court docket, Price was charged by Magisterial District Judge Joanne Price Corbett in September 2011 with 29 counts of forgery.

“Had I done a Google search, or checked on her, I think this could have been averted,” Dennis said.

Content retrieved from: http://thetimes-tribune.com/news/police-dentist-s-office-manager-stole-27g-1.1981681