Florida Bookkeeper is Accused of Embezzling $156,000 from Oral Surgeon

Heather Hushelpeck

GAINESVILLE, Fla. (WGFL) — A Gainesville bookkeeper is accused of embezzling more than $156,000 from an oral surgeon over the last couple of years

Alachua County Sheriff’s investigators on Friday arrested and charged 45-year-old Heather Hushelpeck with grand larceny over $100,000, embezzlement and fraud. Hushelpeck is being held without bond at the Alachua County Jail pending a court appearance Saturday morning.

An arrest report says Hushelpeck was fired in December from her job as bookkeeper at the oral surgery office of Marvin M. Slott D.D.S after she couldn’t explain a $1,300 charge onto her credit card and a $7,500 transaction in a former employee’s name.

“Heather didn’t have any reasonable explanation why that money was gone,” says Financial Detective Kyle Reedy, from the Alachua County Sheriff’s Office.

The report says she returned to the office three days later to reinstall the accounting software she had deleted. The report says Hushelpeck started crying and told the staff she “f***ed up.”

The report says Hushelpeck admitted to taking money for at least a year, through a variety of ways, including writing checks to herself, charging back refunds to herself, taking money clients paid, and only partially deposit funds. Investigators say Hushelpeck told her former employer the total amount taken was over $100,000.

Court documents allege Hushelpeck took payments from the oral surgeon’s office and wrote out checks payable to the Star Center Children’s Theatre and the Howard Bishop Middle School PTA by coding them as payments for supplies. Investigators say as treasurer for both organizations, Hushelpeck was able to then withdraw the money for her own use. WGFL

Hushelpeck attempted to settle the case with Slott’s attorney without involving police. Deputies say she wrote an email to the attorney offering to settle by paying back $75,000 and borrowing another $25,000.

An email from Slott’s attorney to Hushelpeck, however, says a preliminary analysis found she stole more than $403,000. The email gave Hushelpeck 30 days to pay the full amount or be sued. Investigators say so far they’ve only been able to prove the $156,000 amount.

“I have never seen an embezzlement case like this,” says Reedy.

Slott in December filed a 42-page lawsuit against Hushelpeck, her husband Erik, Star Center Children’s Theatre and the Howard Bishop Middle School PTA. The lawsuit alleges Hushelpeck paid the PTA more than $6,700 and Star Theatre more than $26,000. Eric Hushelpeck has not been charged with a crime. Both he and his wife responded to the lawsuit by asking for more time.

The PTA responded by denying any knowledge of the allegations and asking the court to dismiss it from the case. It also says Hushelpeck is no longer its treasurer.

Star Center has not yet filed a response to the lawsuit, according to court records.

“You are going to get caught at some point,” says Reedy. “And when you do, it’s going to cost you more to get yourself out of the situation.”

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New Bern, NC Woman Charged with Embezzling from Oral Surgery Practice

blankA New Bern woman has been charged with seven felony counts of embezzling money from the dental practice where she worked. Kristen E. Hauber, 43, who listed a 105 Meadows St. address, was charged Monday with taking a total of $7,860.50 from the Coastal Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery office, located at 604 McCarthy Blvd., between Jan. 7 and July 1 of this year.

According to arrest warrants, sums taken during that time were: $697.50 on Jan. 7; $785 on Feb. 4; $445 on March 16; $1,269 on April 6; $2,898 on May 2; $1,299 on June 21; and $467 on July 1.

Hauber was released on her own recognizance and was scheduled to have her first court appearance on Friday morning. In North Carolina, a felony embezzlement conviction for less than $100,000 carries a penalty of five to six months in prison. In addition to its New Bern office, Coastal Oral & Maxillofacial Surgery has an office in Greenville.
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Content retrieved from http://www.newbernsj.com/news/20161006/new-bern-woman-charged-with-embezzling-from-dental-practice

Prison term for Pennsylvania oral surgeon in theft, prescription fraud case

HARRISBURG — Saying incarceration remains his aim, a judge Wednesday refused to reconsider a 15- to 30-month prison term he slapped on a Hershey-based oral surgeon who pleaded guilty to theft and drug prescription violation charges. Senior Judge John L. Braxton did allow Dr. Donald Dinello Jr. to remain free on $50,000 bail pending a possible appeal to the state Superior Court, however.

Braxton returned to a Dauphin County courtroom to hear — and ultimately reject — a petition that defense attorney Royce Morris filed to modify the sentence imposed on Dinello in July.

Under a deal with the Pennsylvania Attorney General’s Office, Dinello, 46, pleaded guilty to charges that he stole from his partner in Hershey Oral Surgery Associates and improperly wrote prescriptions for the painkiller Oxycodon for an employee and her husband. He pleaded to a charge of refusing to keep required records of drugs he prescribed in connection with the prescription fraud allegation. Dinello’s pleas also resulted in a 2-year suspension of his state dental license. The tension was palpable as Morris made his sentence modification request during Wednesday’s hearing. Among other arguments, he contended that Dinello “has maintained a remorseful attitude” about his crimes.

Senior Deputy Attorney General Patrick Leonard urged Braxton not to budge from the original sentence. He noted that the charges against Dinello carry a maximum possible penalty of 8 1/2 years in prison.

The message sent in the case is important, Leonard said, because “there are others in the dental community … who I’m sure have a keen eye on what happens here with Dr. Dinello.” Braxton said he still considers his initial sentence “fair and appropriate.” Dinello deserves nothing that would hint at special treatment and must spend time behind bars for betraying the trust the community placed in him as a healer, the judge said. “He’s a convicted felon, and he has to pay the consequences,” Braxton said.

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Content retrieved from http://www.pennlive.com/midstate/index.ssf/2014/10/judge_doesnt_budge_on_prison_t.html

Ohio Oral Surgery Employee Steals Fentanyl from Office


LAKEWOOD, Ohio – A local dental employee now faces drug and theft charges after she was accused of stealing Fentanyl from an oral surgeon’s office.

Karen A. Seguin reportedly used her business key to enter the oral sugary office of Brian K. Smith, DDS, MD, Inc. after hours and filled syringes with the Fentanyl.

According to court documents, Seguin then filled the Fentanyl vials with saline to mask the theft.

She told officials this happened four to five times between July 21 and Aug. 21.

Sequin was arrested on Aug. 22 by Lakewood Police.

She was charged on Monday with two counts of theft, four counts of tampering with drugs and two counts of breaking and entering.

The Cuyahoga County Medical Examiner recently warned the public about a spike in fentanyl-related deaths. The prescription painkiller is at least 30 times more potent than heroin.

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NJ office manager steals $215k, gets five days in jail


A long-time employee for a Raritan Township oral surgeon was sentenced Friday, Jan. 5, to 36 days in jail and five years of probation for bilking the practice of more than $215,000 The ex-office manager, Barbara Reinhard, 59, of Raritan Township, cashed insurance checks and pocketed the money in various amounts between March 26, 1999 and Nov. 12, 2004 from the Sand Hill Road practice of Joseph Sansevere, an oral surgeon.

Reinhard, who appears frail and walks with a cane, had illegally cashed 256 insurance checks totaling $215,426.86 over that five-year period according to an October 2005 indictment. Barbara, I hope you know how many people you have hurt, Carolyn Sansevere said in a prepared statement before Reinhard was sentenced. Sansevere’s wife said that Reinhard’s scheme was complex and included convincing tellers to cash business checks that by law had to be deposited; went to the post office posing as someone else to collect mail for the business and altered data in a computer attempting to deflect suspicion. Carolyn Sansevere, speaking on behalf of her husband who was also in court, said the practice’s reputation, which was built from scratch took a huge hit as a result of the thefts.

Sansevere’s wife, who had worked at the practice when the thefts were occurring, said an internal investigation and investigations by the Raritan Township Police and the Hunterdon County Prosecutor’s Office were conducted to prove her husband’s innocence. “You thought nothing of trying to blame other people,” Sansevere’s wife said. Assistant Prosecutor Charles Ouslander said Reinhard had been considered a loyal employee who was almost treated like a family member. Reinhard responded with a simple “no,” when asked by Superior Court judge Roger F. Mahon, sitting in Flemington, if she had anything to say before he sentenced her. The investigation began Nov. 17, 2004, after accusations that Reinhard took prescription blanks and used them to obtain painkillers had surfaced, Ouslander said following the hearing. The scheme fell apart when a particular drug not used very often was requested over a short period of time, Ouslander said. She was arrested in February 2005 during the investigation. Reinhard had worked for Sansevere for 10 years starting in 1994 and worked her way up, eventually being trusted to deal with insurance companies and depositing checks, according to court records.

She pleaded guilty Sept. 8 to theft by failure to make required disposition. Other charges were dropped as part of the plea agreement. Ouslander said Reinhard was among the first employees when Sansevere’s practice opened 12 years ago. Some of the stolen money was recouped by practice from the banks following civil court settlements, assistant prosecutor Ouslander said. Judge Mahon ordered Reinhard to pay $120,000 in restitution as part of the plea agreement with prosecutors. Employees from Sansevere’s practice filled most of the left side of the courtroom in support of the victim, but they did not speak. Ouslander said he was satisfied with the sentence the judge imposed. “I believe Mr. Sansevere was satisfied as well,” Ouslander said following the sentencing.

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Troubled Florida oral surgeon pleaded guilty to embezzling from practice where he worked; sentenced to 3.5 years in prison


A St. Cloud oral surgeon was sentenced to five years in state prison this week in a Leon County courtroom and agreed to give up his license to practice dentistry.

John Rowe, 49, pleaded guilty in September to one count of organized fraud and 51 counts of receiving unlawful compensation. He admitted charging patients for anesthesia and billing Medicaid for the same treatment, although he never administered the drugs, said Assistant Statewide Prosecutor Jack McLaughlin.

Rowe also pleaded guilty to one count of grand theft and two counts of homeowners insurance fraud committed in Osceola County.

Judge N. Sanders Sauls, chief of the Second Judicial Circuit, Tuesday sentenced him to 3 1/2 years in prison to be served at the same time as the fraud sentence. The case was transferred to Leon County, where Medicaid is administered, for the plea and sentencing.

”I’m satisfied with the sentences the statewide prosecutor got,” said prosecutor Jon Morgan, who heads the Osceola County Office of the Orange-Osceola State Attorney. ”I think they will serve to protect the citizens of this state from him taking advantage of them in the future.”

Dozens of former patients, insurance companies and Florida Board of Dentistry attorneys have sued or complained about Rowe in the past decade.

He got out of federal prison in September after serving more than two years for money laundering and submitting false Medicare claims. Prosecutors said he collected payments from patients for routine dental work, then billed Medicare for surgery he never performed. The incidents happened from 1992 to 1994.

As part of his sentence, Rowe’s state prison term will be followed by 10 years of probation. He also must repay $93,000 to Allstate Insurance Co. for the homeowners fraud and pay for the cost of the investigation by the Office of Statewide Prosecution, the Attorney General’s Medicaid Fraud Unit and the Florida Department of Law Enforcement.

Earlier this year, Rowe was ordered to repay more than $5,000 to Medicare. He stopped practicing dentistry in 1995, when he was sent to federal prison.

When Rowe was granted a license in Florida, the Tennessee Board of Dentistry already had revoked his license for six months in 1983 on charges of gross malpractice and incompetence.

Six years later, the Florida board fined him and sent him to 100 hours of retraining after he pulled teeth without permission.

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Illinois Bookkeeper gets five years for embezzling $127,000


ELMHURST — An Elmhurst bookkeeper was sentenced Wednesday to 5 years in prison for embezzling about $127,000 from a dental office in 2004 and 2005.

Patricia Gaffney, 54, who was convicted by a jury in April of theft of more than $10,000, continued Wednesday to maintain her innocence, blaming her attorneys, the judge’s evidential rulings, the company’s dentists and their office staff. But she admitted having financialproblems.

“You treated the doctors’ accounts as your own piggy banks,” said DuPage County Judge Mark Dwyer.

Assistant State’s Atty. Ken Tatarelis said Gaffney had confessed to Elmhurst police in a 22-page statement but later recanted about depositing checks from Advanced Oral & Maxillofacial.

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NM Woman Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement of more than $300k from Oral Surgeon; Gets Probation

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A prominent Roswell community member has pleaded guilty to an embezzlement charge and been given a suspended sentence of nine years in a criminal case involving circumstances that destroyed longtime friendships and also gave rise to a related civil lawsuit in which her former employer said she stole more than $300,000 from him.

Sherry C. Eckel, 65, pleaded guilty Wednesday in a courtroom in Carlsbad to a second-degree felony, embezzlement over $20,000, in an agreement that involved the dismissal of another count, unlawful obtaining or attempt to obtain dangerous drugs, a fourth-degree felony.
The charge that was dropped involved the allegation that Eckel fraudulently obtained Botox, Juvaderm or similar drugs. The civil lawsuit filed by her former employer, oral surgeon Dr. Ben Smith, alleged Eckel had done so for the purpose of administering the drugs to others.
”What is totally lacking here is any explanation of why you have done this,” said Judge Lisa B. Riley with the Fifth Judicial District Court in Eddy County. “Usually what I see are people who have come from difficult circumstances, not someone who has everything going for her.”
All four Fifth Judicial District Court judges in Chaves County either removed themselves from considering the case or were asked to step aside, given their familiarity with Eckel and her husband. Jesse Eckel is a vice president at J.P. Stone Community Bank in Roswell and is a governor-appointed regent of the New Mexico Military Institute.
Riley made her statement after reading the defense team’s sentencing memorandum and accompanying letters of references, which the judge said reminded her of “an award [auth] nomination.”
She then rejected the suggestion of defense attorney B.J. Crow for a conditional discharge and instead ruled that the nine-year sentence would be suspended and that Eckel will serve three years on supervised probation followed by two years of parole. Eckel also was ordered to pay $180 in various fees.
Restitution was waived because Eckel and her husband previously had reached a settlement for an undisclosed amount to reimburse some of the money to Smith.
Assistant District Attorney Kristen Cartwright said that she could not comment on why the decision was made to drop the fourth-degree felony involving the obtaining of drugs, as that decision involved a prior District Attorney staff member. Cartwright also said she considers the case done.
”As far as I am concerned the case is over,” said Cartwright. The sentence “was exactly as we recommended …”
Eckel apologized for her actions in her statement to the court but did not give any reasons for behavior that Riley characterized as a pattern of conduct.
”This was not a mistake. This was not a one-time action,” Riley said. “It charges that this happened from March 1, 2013 to Feb. 28, 2015. That is a course of conduct over a period of time.”
Eckel had been an office manager for the local dental practice for Dr. Smith for more than 25 years, receiving what Smith has said was a six-figure annual income.
Smith, who referred several times to the betrayal of trust he, his staff and family experienced, said that he had discovered the embezzlement when he sold his local practice in 2013 and reviewed financial records as part of that process.
According to the civil lawsuit Smith filed against both Eckel and her husband, Smith said that she had taken at least $300,000 from his business by taking cash payments for herself rather than depositing them in the business account. He also claimed that Eckel wrote checks of about $83,000 to her two children using the dental practice business account. Smith alleged in that lawsuit that the husband would be aware of what was occurring because the Eckels held a joint bank account and his financial obligations to his children would have been decreasing.
Addressing the judge, Dr. Smith said, “In her capacity, she had my complete trust and that of my practice staff. She also was the trustee of my grandfather’s will. She had total access to all my accounts and she looted them of more than $1 million. The restitution that I have received is a fraction of that. She never said that she was sorry and she never showed remorse.”
Smith described himself as an empathetic and compassionate person.
”I am sorry that it has come to this point,” he said, “But I think anyone who violates our trust and does so against the statutes of this case deserves to be punished.”
Following the hearing, Smith said that he was satisfied with the outcome.
”She is a convicted felon and she will have to live with that for the rest of her life,” he said.
Eckel told the judge that Dr. Smith had told her stay away from him and his family, which is why she never apologized directly to him.
Crow, her lawyer, described his client as part of a loving family who had many supportive friends. He said that she has never before been in trouble with the law and that she was known in her community for her volunteer efforts with NMMI, the Rotary and other organizations.
The Eckels and their lawyer chose not to provide additional comments following the hearing.
”I have no doubt that you will be successful on probation,” said Riley after sentencing Eckel. “I do not expect to see you back here.”
Another civil lawsuit was recently filed against Eckel that questions her handling of financial matters.
Tara O’Connell of Tulsa, Oklahoma, filed suit in August alleging that Eckel has made questionable decisions regarding a trust that O’Connell’s grandmother, Eugenie M. Hanagan, established. Eckel was named primary trustee for the trust, which has since been dissolved. Included among the allegations in the pending suit are the statement that Eckel paid a credit card bill for her son with assets from the trust.
”That I do know,” said lawyer Angelo Artuso of Albuquerque, who represents O’Connell. “But I haven’t spoken to (Eckel) about it. There may be a reason why she would have been able to do that. We haven’t proven anything yet.”
He said that the lawsuit is in the discovery stage and that he and Eckel’s lawyers have been trying to resolve the issues.
”We are trying to determine what assets are in the trust and hopefully that will be the end of it,” he said. “If it turns out there is stuff missing or the questions aren’t being answered, then the lawsuit will continue.”
That lawsuit also has been assigned to Judge Riley following the recusal or requests by lawyers for five other judges to step aside. No upcoming hearing has been scheduled in that matter.

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