Convicted Nova Scotia thief asks judge for longer jail term to address gambling addiction

debbie rushtonA Nova Scotia woman who is addicted to gambling on video-lottery terminals has been sentenced to two years in jail for stealing from her employers.

Court heard that Debbie Rushton stole more than $230,000 from T. A. Orthodontics and Donford Enterprises of Truro, N.S.

The 45-year-old woman from nearby Debert, N.S., pleaded guilty to theft and fraud charges in January.

During her sentencing hearing yesterday, the Crown and the defence detailed Ms. Rushton’s addiction to VLTs.

Ms. Rushton stole the money over a seven-year period to obtain money for her gambling habit, court was told.

Judge John MacDougall initially imposed an 18-month sentence in a provincial jail.

But he increased the sentence at Ms. Rushton’s request because she wants to get access to rehabilitation services available at federal prisons.

Evidence presented to the court stated the woman was working overtime when she made many of her thefts.

Ms. Rushton stayed late many nights at the orthodontist’s office manipulating the books so the doctor wouldn’t know she was stealing from him.

Judge MacDougall heard in provincial court that Donald Johnston noticed she was working late and decided to pay her an extra half-hour per day. “A nice little bump up, given she was using the extra time to steal from her employer,” the judge said.

Nearly $220,000 was taken in more than 700 transactions, and it cost nearly $20,000 for a forensic audit to uncover the theft from T. A. Orthodontics.

A further $11,641 was taken from the associated company, Donford Enterprises Ltd., and it took another $3,500 in audit costs to uncover that theft.

Ms. Rushton secured a loan from her mother and paid $40,000 in restitution.

Defence lawyer Jill Nette told the court that Ms. Rushton had done extensive research and knew that there were more programs available in federal prison for her gambling addiction than she could find in a provincial institution.

Ms. Nette argued that Ms. Rushton used the money to feed an uncontrollable VLT addiction.

“All the money she had went to gambling,” Ms. Nette said.

“It was not uncommon for her to gamble $1,000 per week.”


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Judge agrees to woman’s request for longer jail term

A woman in Truro, N.S., made an unusual request Thursday: she asked for a longer jail term.

Debbie Rushton, 45, of nearby Debert, had already pleaded guilty to stealing more than $230,000 from her former employer over a seven-year period, and the judge initially sentenced her to 18 months in a provincial jail.

When her lawyer, Jill Nette, explained that Rushton was addicted to video-lottery gambling, and would only get proper treatment for it in a federal prison, Judge John MacDougall agreed to her request for a two-year sentence, which would automatically send her to a federal institution.

“She had done some research, and satisfied herself that the federal institution would provide better services and better rehab, rehabilitation services for her particular problem,” Nette said.

During her sentencing hearing Thursday, the Crown and the defence both detailed Rushton’s addiction to VLTs.

The court was told Rushton stole the money over a seven-year period to get money for her gambling habit.

“All the money she had went to gambling,” said Nette. “It was not uncommon for her to gamble $1,000 per week.”

Rushton stayed late many nights at the orthodontist’s office where she worked, manipulating the books so her employer wouldn’t know she was stealing from him, the court was told.

Elizabeth Fry Society addictions counsellor Jeanette Milley said Thursday she is seeing an increase in the number of women with gambling addictions who are getting in trouble with the law.

“The VLTs especially, we notice a marked increase in, where women are self-medicating with the use of VLTs, and it’s increasing, year by the year, the number of women who seek our help,” Milley said.

Milley says she expects to see more cases of women choosing longer sentences, because often the only way to get in-house treatment for their problems is in a federal institution.

Content retrieved from:  http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/nova-scotia/judge-agrees-to-woman-s-request-for-longer-jail-term-1.679091

Long-time Michigan office manager Rhonda Wilson convicted of stealing from orthodontic office

RHONDA WILSON $100k ORTHODONTIC FRAUD

A business manager for a Holland Township orthodontic practice is in jail after she pleaded guilty last week to embezzling from the father-daughter practice.

A business manager for a Holland Township orthodontic practice is in jail after she pleaded guilty last week to embezzling from the father-daughter practice.

Rhonda Lee Wilson, 58, pleaded guilty in Ottawa County District Court to embezzlement of between $50,000 and $100,000 for crimes dating back to 2007, but Dr. Daniel George says she was stealing from the practice for at least seven years.

It’s a more common problem than the Georges thought.

“Out of the woodwork, people are calling, saying, ‘This happened to us as well,'” George said. “The reason we prosecuted is because we had friends, they didn’t prosecute, and (perpetrators) went on and embezzled elsewhere.”

Wilson received eight months in jail and 36 months probation, Ottawa County Prosecutor Ron Frantz said.

“That’s nothing,” George said. “If you went (to prison) for years, that would sure get your attention.”

Wilson will also have to pay more than $180,600 in restitution to the Georges, according to sheriff’s documents.

 


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Former office manager gets one year sentence for stealing from Maine orthodontic office

Posted June 01, 2011, at 6:52 p.m.
 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.

 


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Former office manager gets one year in prison for stealing money from dental office

Maine orthodontist’s bookkeeper gets 6 months for embezzling $120K

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Augusta dentist Darryl Zeleniak says he and others in his office all felt betrayed by Celine M. Davis, whom he had treated ‘as a friend.’

AUGUSTA — It was the betrayal, not the loss of money, that smarted.

That’s what Darryl Zeleniak told a judge Tuesday at a sentencing hearing for Celine M. Davis, 43, the former bookkeeper at his dental practice, Augusta Orthodontics.

Davis, formerly of West Gardiner and now of Lewiston, embezzled about $120,000 from Zeleniak’s practice between Jan. 19, 2006, and Feb. 14, 2011. She pleaded guilty Oct. 25 to theft by unauthorized taking.

She was sentenced Tuesday to serve six months in jail. The sentence handed down by Nivison totaled five years in prison, with all but six months suspended, and probation for three years after release. Probation conditions stipulate that she has no contact with Zeleniak, his wife and Augusta Orthodontics.

Davis had worked at the dental office for more than 16 years. Zeleniak said he and the other members of the office staff — who attended the hearing — all felt betrayed by the embezzlement.

“You betrayed your husband and your children, and lost their trust,” Zeleniak said in court. “You caused a tremendous amount of pain.”

Davis’ father accompanied her to the hearing. She stood next to her attorney, J. Mitchell Flick, but she did not speak to the judge.

Neither Davis nor Flick offered an explanation for what the embezzled cash was spent on.

Davis also was ordered to pay the remaining restitution of more than $72,500. She previously paid nearly $47,000 through her 401k plan.

Assistant District Attorney Brad Grant said Davis had no prior criminal record.

At a previous hearing, Grant described the embezzlement scheme, which involved Davis accepting cash payments and then deleting or voiding them in the computer system after providing a receipt.

The fraud was uncovered when a customer complained about an erroneous bill. Karen Zeleniak, Darryl Zeleniak’s wife, who also works at the practice, was able to reconstruct the computer records.

Davis was the second woman from Kennebec County to be sentenced in recent days for embezzlement.

On Friday, Bettysue Higgins, of Gardiner, was sentenced to six years in prison with all but three and a half years suspended for embezzling almost $167,000 from the Maine Trial Lawyers Association between May 2006 and September 2010. Higgins, who was the bookkeeper at the association’s two-person Augusta office, spent much of the stolen money on Internet-based games.

Both Higgins and Davis align with the typical profile of embezzlers assembled by Christopher T. Marquet, CEO of Marquet International, based in Wellesley, Mass.

Marquet’s firm specializes in forensic audits, but each year he releases a study describing attributes of those recently convicted of embezzlement. The report on embezzlement is available at www.marquetinternational.com.

He said the perpetrators are more frequently women and the schemes last an average of four and a half years or more.

“Usually what we see is that a lot of these companies are small mom-and-pop shops and they rely completely on this woman to be honest,” Marquet said. “If she has the motivation, access and justification, then you’ve got a high risk. It’s so common and so typical, and sadly this phenomenon is going on daily. The vast majority of cases are really motivated by a lifestyle issue rather than a need issue.”

Marquet said this type of fraud is usually uncovered more often in bad economic times.

“In good times, it’s harder to see the thefts,” he said. “In bad times, they’re detected more frequently because of greater scrutiny that’s going on with company finances.”

 


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Wisconsin woman charged with $680K theft from orthodontist

MOUNT PLEASANT — A 74-year-old Racine woman is facing five felony charges that she allegedly stole from and defrauded a Mount Pleasant orthodontics firm for which she was handling bookkeeping.

 

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MOUNT PLEASANT — A 74-year-old Racine woman is facing five felony charges that she allegedly stole from and defrauded a Mount Pleasant orthodontics firm for which she was handling bookkeeping.

Joyce F. Sakach of the 2800 block of Oregon Street was charged Tuesday in Racine County Circuit Court with theft from a business setting, two counts of felony personal identity theft, unauthorized use of an entity’s identifying information and fraud against a financial institution. She was free on $500 cash bond Tuesday awaiting a preliminary hearing on April 8, court records indicate.

According to a criminal complaint from the county District Attorney’s Office, Sakach was employed with a Mount Pleasant accounting firm and was assigned day-to-day accounting for Chu Crew Orthodontics, 1130 S. Sunnyslope Drive. In that capacity, she had authority to print checks to pay bills, the complaint states.

 A 2013 audit of records showed that between 2007 and 2013, Sakach allegedly wrote 340 fraudulent checks on the orthodontics firm’s account totaling $680,197.99, the complaint states. Sakach also allegedly opened a bank account for a company that did not exist, wrote checks from the orthodontics firm and deposited them in the bank account for the faux firm.

The complaint states that Sakach used checks from the phony company to make purchases or pay bills with Kohl’s, Time Warner Cable and credit card companies. In addition, ATM withdrawals were made at casinos in Milwaukee and Las Vegas, the complaint states.

North Carolina woman sentenced for embezzlement from orthodontist

A Morganton woman was sent to prison on Monday for embezzling more than $300,000 from a Marion business.

 

Posted: Monday, September 28, 2015 4:13 pm

A Morganton woman was sent to prison on Monday for embezzling more than $300,000 from a Marion business.

Tammy Davis Gurley, 48, of Wesley Road in Morganton, was found guilty of one count of Class C embezzlement Monday in McDowell County Superior Court. Gurley’s lawyer told the judge that she has accepted responsibility for her conduct.

She was sentenced to a minimum of 44 months and a maximum of 62 months in prison. She did not have any days time served and is not to have contact with the victims. She was immediately taken into custody in the courtroom.

In Aug. of 2013, Gurley was arrested and charged with embezzling from the orthodontist office of Dr. Christopher Nevant, located on South Main Street in Marion. Gurley was employed at the office for nearly 15 years and was responsible for daily deposits and insurance claims.

Nevant told The McDowell News on Monday the total amount of money she took was $339,128.35 over a period of five years.

“I am happy that this case has finally been brought to justice,” said Nevant in a prepared statement. “It was a very unfortunate situation that occurred and I have learned a lot about embezzlement over the past two years. Embezzlement is a serious crime that destroys many people and in most instances, the embezzler is never held accountable.”

Nevant thanked Sgt. Rick Gutierrez of the Marion Police Department who was responsible for investigating and charging Gurley.

“He has worked diligently over the past two years doing everything he could to prosecute this crime fairly and professionally. Rick has spent countless hours reviewing financial information to properly document the circumstances that occurred,” Nevant said in his prepared statement. “I appreciate Rick’s dedication to this case to assure that the criminal was held responsible for her action.”

Nevant said the conviction was also made possible by McDowell’s new district attorney Ted Bell, who he said took the case very seriously.

“District Attorney Ted Bell was willing to put the time and effort into this case to be sure that justice was properly served and the convicted felon was not let off with a slap on the wrist,” said Nevant in his statement. “Ted Bell is committed to hold criminals responsible for their actions and is a breath of fresh air to the criminal justice system in McDowell and Rutherford counties that was very much overdue.”

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