Holmdel, NJ – A front desk receptionist at a Holmdel orthodontics practice was indicted this week for stealing her boss’ checkbook, and writing about $25,000 worth of checks to herself and her friends, Monmouth County prosecutors announced Tuesday.
Dr. Sezer Olcay, DMD, the owner of Holmdel Orthodontics, said she doesn’t usually write checks, so at first she didn’t notice when pages from her personal checkbook went missing last fall.
“I would check my bank account online and notice checks had been made out in small amounts at first, $25, $50,” Dr. Olcay told Patch Wednesday. “Then the amounts got larger.”
As soon as she realized what was happening, the orthodontist called the police.
Her front desk receptionist, Gina Lena, has been charged with stealing her checkbook and writing out checks to herself as well as two of her friends, she said. This went on for about a 10-week period, Dr. Olcay said, from September through November of 2015. In total, she says, Lena stole $25,000 from her.
Sumaria Love X23254, CIW, 16756 Chino Corona Road, Corona, CA, 92880-9508: Currently I prison in California and anxious to return to Georgia. I am lonely and desperate for a pen pal. Love to travel in the states & internationally. I enjoy reading, writing and would like to meet someone who can be an encourager, spiritual guide, teacher and friend. I am a Christian.
THE PEOPLE, Plaintiff and Respondent, v. SUMARIA LOVE, Defendant and Appellant.
Court of Appeals of California, Third District.
September 16, 2008.
CERTIFIED FOR PARTIAL PUBLICATION[*]
*1294 Patricia L. Brisbois, under appointment by the Court of Appeal, for Defendant and Appellant.
Edmund G. Brown, Jr., Attorney General, Dane R. Gillette, Chief Assistant Attorney General, Michael P. Farrell, Assistant Attorney General, Janis Shank McClean and Tia M. Coronado, Deputy Attorneys General, for Plaintiff and Respondent.
DAVIS, Acting P. J.
A jury convicted defendant Sumaria Love of 15 counts of various identity theft-based offenses arising from abuse of her position of trust as a dental receptionist.
On appeal, defendant makes four claims: (1) her conviction in count eight of fraudulently using an access (credit) card was only an attempted offense; (2) the prohibition upon dual convictions for theft and receipt of the same property bars her from being convicted both of fraudulent use of an access card in count twelve and receiving stolen property in count fifteen; (3) her felony convictions in counts four, eight, twelve and thirteen must be reduced to misdemeanors because the jury never determined the amount taken; and (4) the trial court’s imposition of an upper-term sentence violated her rights to a jury trial and due process under the Fourteenth and Sixth Amendments.
The published portion of this opinion encompasses defendant’s first three claims and we agree with the latter two of them. Accordingly, we strike defendant’s conviction in count fifteen and remand the convictions in counts four, eight, twelve and thirteen for resentencing as misdemeanors. We disagree with defendant’s first claim. In the unpublished portion of this opinion, we reject defendant’s fourth claim.
Counts OneFour: Valentine’s Day Flowers
Defendant worked as a receptionist for dentist Hamid N. (Dr. Hamid) during February and March 2005. Rosa D. (Rosa), a patient of Dr. Hamid, noticed on her credit card statement a charge of $91.98 for flowers she had not ordered. An investigator determined that the purchase was made from Dr. Hamid’s office computer on Valentine’s Day, a date on which defendant worked. Defendant’s brother Larry Love testified that he had asked defendant to order the flowers on his behalf; they were delivered to a woman he was dating. Defendant admitted ordering the flowers in a recorded phone conversation with her mother.
Counts Five-Eight: Victoria’s Secret Gift Card
Another patient of Dr. Hamid, Sadiq M., discovered that someone had charged to his credit card a $500 Victoria’s Secret gift card without his knowledge or consent. Investigators traced the order, finding it had been *1296 placed on March 25, 2005, in Dr. Hamid’s name and listed his office address. The credit card company placed a hold on the purchase, preventing the gift card from being issued.
Counts Nine-Twelve, Fifteen: Laptop
Also on March 25, someone ordered a laptop computer and an Internet communication camera from Dr. Hamid’s office computer and paid for it with his credit card without his knowledge or consent. In April, after quitting her job with Dr. Hamid, defendant changed the address associated with the doctor’s credit card to a post office box belonging to her. Police discovered the laptop in defendant’s residence.
Count Thirteen: Postage Meter
After being fired from a subsequent dentist’s office for suspicion of dishonest conduct, defendant was hired by dentist Andrea S. She worked at Dr. Andrea’s office from October to December 2005. During the time she was employed by Dr. Andrea, defendant removed from Dr. Andrea’s office various items without permission, including a postage meter. Police located the postage meter at defendant’s residence.
Count Fourteen: Utilities Bill
Defendant also worked as a receptionist at Capital Oral Surgery from April 2004 to February 2005. During this time, she had access to personal patient information such as Social Security numbers and dates of birth. Nina A. took her son to Capital Oral Surgery to have his wisdom teeth removed in July 2004. In January 2006, Nina discovered someone had opened a utilities account in her name. The account listed Nina and defendant’s mother as account holders and serviced defendant’s address. Police subsequently located a billing statement in Nina’s name at defendant’s residence.
Defendant’s 15 convictions were comprised as follows. For the Valentine’s Day flowers (counts one-four), the Victoria’s Secret gift card (counts five-eight), and the laptop (counts nine-twelve), the jury convicted her of four felonies regarding each of these three items: identity theft (Pen. Code, § 530.5, subd. (a)); false personation (§ 529); fraudulent possession of an access card (§ 484e, subd. (d)); and fraudulent use of an access card (§ 484g, subd. (a)). Additionally, the jury convicted defendant of receiving the laptop as stolen property (count fifteen). (§ 496, subd. (a).) For the postage meter (count thirteen), she was convicted of embezzlement. (§ 508.) And for the *1297 utilities account (count fourteen), defendant was convicted of a fourth charge of identity theft. (§ 530.5, subd. (a).)
The jury did not make any findings as to the value of the property taken in counts four, eight, twelve, and thirteen.
1. Attempted Offense: Count Eight (Victoria’s Secret Gift Card)
Defendant contends that, because the credit card company canceled the order and prevented the Victoria’s Secret gift card from being issued pursuant to her use of Sadiq’s credit card, her actions amounted to “at best” an attempted theft under section 484g, subdivision (a), and therefore there was insufficient evidence for the completed offense. We disagree.
(1)To determine whether count eight constitutes a completed or just an attempted offense of section 484g, subdivision (a), we must interpret that statute. “Our objective in interpreting a statute is to determine legislative intent so as to effectuate the law’s purpose. The first thing we do is read the statute, and give the words their ordinary meanings unless special definitions are provided. If the meaning of the words is clear, then the language controls; if not, we may use various interpretive aids.” (Schnyder v. State Bd. of Equalization (2002) 101Cal. App. 4th538, 545 [124 Cal.Rptr.2d 571], fns. omitted.) (2) Here we find that the meaning of the pertinent words in section 484g, subdivision (a) is clear and the language controls.
Section 484g, subdivision (a) provides in relevant part: “Every person who, with the intent to defraud, (a) uses, for the purpose of obtaining money, goods, services, or anything else of value, an access card or access card account information that has been altered, obtained, or retained in violation of Section 484e or 484f [i.e., another person’s card or account information], or an access card which he or she knows is forged, expired, or revoked . . . is guilty of theft. . . .” (§ 484g, subd. (a).) This statute may be broken down into two elements: (1) that defendant “use” the access card or account information, and (2) that defendant do so “for the purpose of obtaining money, goods, services, or anything else of value.” (Ibid.)
The evidence at trial satisfied the first element of section 484g, subdivision (a)defendant “use[d]” the card. Merriam-Webster’s New Collegiate *1298 Dictionary defines “use” in such a context as “to put into action or service: avail oneself of: employ.” (Merriam-Webster’s 11th New Collegiate Dict. (2003) p. 1378.) Defendant “use[d]” or “put into . . . service” Sadiq’s access card information by entering it into an Internet Web page to place an order. The conduct described by the plain language of the statute is completed regardless of whether the object is obtained. To illustrate, we can say that a president may “use,” “put into . . . service,” or “employ” the military, regardless of whether he achieves his military goals.
The evidence also satisfied the second element that defendant’s “use” was “for the purpose of obtaining money, goods, services, or anything else of value.” The obvious and undisputed purpose behind entering Sadiq’s access card information into the Internet was to acquire the Victoria’s Secret gift card.
Because the evidence established both elements described plainly in section 484g, subdivision (a), we find there was sufficient evidence to convict defendant of the completed offense.
2. Dual Convictions: Counts Twelve and Fifteen (Laptop)
Defendant contends her convictions in counts twelve and fifteen violate the prohibition against dual convictions for theft and receipt of the same property. In count twelve, the jury convicted defendant of using Dr. Hamid’s credit card information for the purpose of obtaining money, goods, services, or anything else of value. (§ 484g, subd. (a).) These goods included a laptop computer. In count fifteen, the jury convicted her of receiving the same laptop computer as stolen property belonging to Dr. Hamid in count fifteen. (§ 496, subd. (a).) For the reasons stated below, we agree with defendant.
(3)Courts have long held that one cannot be charged for theft and receipt of the same property. The Legislature codified this common law” rule in section 496, subdivision (a), which states in pertinent part: “A principal in the actual *1299 theft of the property may be convicted pursuant to this section. However, no person may be convicted both pursuant to this section and of the theft of the same property.” (§ 496, subd. (a), 2d par.; see People v. Garza (2005) 35Cal. 4th866, 871 [28 Cal.Rptr.3d 335, 111 P.3d 310].)
Section 496 plainly applies when a defendant is convicted of “theft.” Section 484g, subdivision (a) is one of seven statutes imparting special statutory definitions of “theft” that apply in the context of access card offenses. (See §§484, 484d-484j.) Under section 484g, subdivision (a)’s plain language, a defendant is “guilty of theft,” if he or she “uses, for the purpose of obtaining money, goods, services, or anything else of value, an access card or access card account information that has been altered, obtained, or retained in violation of Section 484e or 484f [i.e., another person’s card or account information], or an access card which he or she knows is forged, expired, or revoked . . .” (§ 484g, subd. (a).) Considering that sections 496 and 484g, subdivision (a) are within the same statutory scheme and use the same term (“theft”), we presume that the Legislature intended section 496, subdivision (a), to apply to section 484g, subdivision (a). (Catholic Mutual Relief Society v. Superior Court(2007)
Because section 496 prohibits one from being convicted of both “theft” and receipt of the same property, we must determine what “property,” if any, is at issue when a defendant commits theft under section 484g, subdivision (a). By the plain language of the statute, there is only one reasonable conclusion: the “money, goods, services, or anything else of value” which formed the “purpose” behind defendant’s “use” of the access card. The Legislature plainly associates this list of property with the offense, and we presume the Legislature “`meant what it said.'” (People v. Snook (1997) 16Cal. 4th1210, 1217 [69 Cal.Rptr.2d 615, 947 P.2d 808].) Here, defendant used Dr. Hamid’s access card information for the purpose of stealing the laptop. Her conduct was always attached to the goal of receiving the laptop as property, and that is the property associated with her violation.
Applying our reasoning in part 1. of this opinion, the People contend that, because theft under section 484g, subdivision (a) may be completed even if defendant is not successful in obtaining the property, her subsequent receipt of the laptop constituted a second theft offense. Under section 496, the People maintain, the prosecutor had the discretion to charge this second offense as either theft or receipt of stolen property, and here, the prosecutor chose to charge it as receipt of stolen property.
*1300 We disagree. Whether defendant obtained the property or not, the two elements of the section 484g, subdivision (a) offense require an integration of the “use” with the “purpose” of obtaining particular “money, goods, services, or anything else of value.” When defendant supplied Dr. Hamid’s credit card information into the Internet, her purpose remained constantto obtain the laptop. While she may complete the section 484g, subdivision (a) theft offense without obtaining the laptop, should she obtain it, it is the “same property” involved in the theft.
Alternatively, the People contend that the “property” correlating to the theft was the monetary loss suffered by Dr. Hamid, and not the laptop. This cannot be the case. The statute requires that defendant use the card “for the purpose of obtaining” certain objects. Defendant used the card to obtain the laptop, not money.
(4)Because the laptop is the “same property” associated with defendant’s convictions of theft and receiving stolen property, section 496, subdivision (a), bars her dual conviction in count fifteen for receiving stolen property.
3. Counts Four, Eight, Twelve, and Thirteen As Misdemeanors Based on Amounts Taken Not Found
Defendant next contends that her convictions for grand theft in counts four, eight, twelve, and thirteen must be reduced to misdemeanors because the jury did not find that the value of the items obtained exceeded $400. The People have conceded the merit of this argument, and we agree.
In counts four, eight, and twelve (the Valentine’s Day flowers, Victoria’s Secret gift card, and laptop), the jury convicted defendant of grand theft under section 484g, subdivision (a). Section 484g provides, “If the value of all money, goods, services, and other things of value obtained in violation of this section exceeds four hundred dollars ($400) in any consecutive six-month period, then the same shall constitute grand theft.” Otherwise, the statute dictates the proper conviction as “petty theft,” a misdemeanor. (See §§ 484g, 488, 490.)
(5)In count thirteen (the postage meter), the jury convicted defendant of embezzlement, a form of theft, under section 508. (§ 490a.) Embezzlement is punishable as grand theft if the value of the property taken exceeds $400 (§ 487, subd. (a)) or “[w]here the . . . property is taken by a servant, agent, or employee from his or her principal or employer and aggregates four hundred dollars ($400) or more in any 12 consecutive month period.” (§ 487, subd. (b)(3).) Otherwise, it is punishable only as petty theft. (§ 488.)
*1301 In all four of these counts, the jury was required to determine the degree of the offense under section 1157, which provides: “Whenever a defendant is convicted of a crime or attempt to commit a crime which is distinguished into degrees, the jury … must find the degree of the crime or attempted crime of which he is guilty. Upon the failure of the jury … to so determine, the degree of the crime or attempted crime … shall be deemed to be of the lesser degree.” The People acknowledge that section 1157 applies to defendant’s case. The offenses of which defendant was convicted, sections 484g, subdivision (a), and 508, require that the jury make the determination of degree, based upon its finding whether the value of the property taken exceeded $400 or not.
Here, the jury made no findings as to the value of the items obtained. As for counts eight and twelve (Victoria’s Secret gift card and laptop), the trial court initially instructed the jury to make a finding as to the value of the property obtained by defendant’s fraudulent use of the access card information (CALCRIM No. 3220). However, the trial court withdrew this instruction following a question by the jury as to whether the property actually had to be received in order for a value to be placed upon it. The court gave no instruction to assess a value for count four (flowers) or count thirteen (postage meter).
Because the jury did not find that the value of the items obtained .exceeded $400 in counts four, eight, twelve, or thirteen, these felony convictions must be reduced to misdemeanors and defendant must be resentenced.
4. Imposition of Upper Term Sentence: Count One (Valentine’s Day Flowers)[*]
The convictions in counts four, eight, twelve, and thirteen are reduced to misdemeanors and remanded for resentencing. Defendant’s conviction in count fifteen is stricken.
*1302 In all other respects, the judgment is affirmed. After resentencing, the trial court is directed to send a certified copy of the amended abstract of judgment reflecting these changes to the Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation.
A Petoskey woman was sentenced Monday in 57th Circuit Court to serve the next 11 months in jail for embezzlement.
Melissa Kay Grawey, 42, was alleged in February of 2009 to have embezzled more than $94,000 from her former employer, Northern Dental Group PC in Pellston, during a two-and-a-half year period.
She was originally charged with seven felony counts, including one count of embezzlement between $50,000 and $100,000, a 15-year felony; three counts of forgery and three counts of uttering and publishing, each of which are 14-year felonies; however, these charges were dismissed once Grawey took a plea agreement from the Emmet County Prosecutor’s Office.
On Nov. 24, during a hearing in circuit court, Grawey pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement, $20,000 or more, which is a 10-year felony, while the remaining charges against her were dropped.
During Grawey’s sentencing Monday, both dentists from Northern Dental Group, Dr. William Gillette and Dr. Eric Hayhurst, as well as several employees from their practice, attended to speak out about the impact of this crime on their business.
“I could not do justice to (Dr. Gillette’s) words, but he conveyed, very well, that the impact on the business was felt by every employee,” said Duane Beach, chief assistant prosecutor for Emmet County. “That the monetary impact was just one aspect of the loss suffered by the business …”
Beach said Judge Charles W. Johnson sent a message to Grawey, as well as any person who has or would commit this type of crime.
“Judge Johnson stated that embezzlement is stealing, except that the stealing is done by someone in a position of trust — it is both hurtful and harmful, and merits a significant punishment,” Beach said.
Johnson sentenced Grawey to serve the next 11 months in jail, to be put on five years of probation, to notify the Air Force Reserve of her criminal activity, as well as ordered her to pay restitution to Northern Dental Group PC in the amount of $53,145.51.
This payment, however, is pending, as a result of a claim from Northern Dental Group PC, that Grawey owes them $135,205.15 in restitution.
A hearing for this claim will be set within the next 30 days.
(BROWNSVILLE, Texas) – The financial clerk of a Brownsville dentist has been sentenced to prison for using patient identifying information to open and bill credit card accounts for services while pocketing cash payments made by the patients, United States Attorney Tim Johnson announced today. In a statement to the court, the victimized dentist detailed the 35-year effort by he and his father before him to build trust with their patients only to have the actions of Claire Batsell, 25, destroy it in nine months.
Batsell was sentenced on Tuesday, Jan. 12, 2010, by U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle to a total of 69 months in federal prison without parole. Batsell pleaded guilty in January 2009 to using fraudulent means of identification and aggravated identity theft. The sentence imposed represents 45 months for the fraudulent use of dental patient identification information conviction and a mandatory 24-months for the aggravated identity theft conviction which is to be served consecutively. In addition, the court ordered Batsell to serve a three-year-term of supervised release following her imprisonment and to pay $110,000 in restitution.
Batsell, a U.S. citizen and Brownsville resident, was employed by a local dentist as a receptionist/financial clerk from May 2006 until she was fired in July 2007 when her thefts were discovered. As part of her duties in the dentist’s office, Batsell received checks and cash payments from patients for services rendered. She also prepared and submitted credit applications for patients who wanted to pay on credit. Without the dentist’s or the patients’ knowledge, Batsell used the identifying information of patients who paid with cash to open unauthorized credit accounts, then falsified account ledgers to show the credit account being billed and pocketed the cash. Where a patient had a valid credit account but paid cash, she would pocket the cash and bill the credit account.
Prior to handing down the sentence, the court heard the victimized dentist explain how Batsell’s wrongdoing almost destroyed his dental practice, causing a loss of about one-third of his practice and damaged his professional reputation. The dentist told Judge Tagle Batsell’s thefts adversely affected the credit of some of his patients and imposed a huge financial burden on him and his family to pay back the credit card company for the fraudulent charges made by Batsell. Additionally, the dentist and his staff suffered much embarrassment and stress having to explain to patients what Batsell had done.
The court ordered Batsell into the custody of the United States Marshals to begin serving her sentence immediately following the hearing.
This case was investigated by the U.S. Postal Service and was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorney Oscar Ponce.
It took a jury of seven women and five men just an hour to find a former dental clinic receptionist guilty of stealing $9802 from the business she worked for.
Cambridge woman Annette Myra Higgins, 45, had been on trial for five and a half days in the Hamilton District Court facing charges of stealing from her employer, Duke Street Dental Care, where she had control of accounts and banking.
In a unanimous decision, the jurors found her guilty of false accounting and theft by a person in a special relationship between December 2011 and November 2012.
An alternate charge of stealing from Duke Street Dental did not need to be considered.
An 11-month investigation uncovered numerous transactions where she allegedly stole $25,222.50 from the business. But during the trial, the amount was amended to $9802.
The jury delivered their verdict at 2.30pm on Monday. Unbeknown to them, Higgins had at an earlier appearance pleaded guilty to one charge of theft of medicines worth less than $500.
Earlier on Monday, Judge Denise Clark urged the jurors to be firm in whatever decision they came to, as if they were “involved in a separate trial on each charge.”
“You will have seen how painstaking it is to go through just one transaction,” she said, asking the jury to note the theft charge was a representative charge covering a long period.
“You must be satisfied that during the dates alleged, the offence happened at least once.”
Clark said they must also give consideration to defence lawyer Mike Talbot’s argument that there was no direct evidence connecting Higgins to the missing money.
Clark said while Higgins was guilty of being sloppy, that did not necessarily make her a thief and that “there was shoddy record-keeping attributable to Ms Higgins’ alcohol problems at the time.”
Higgins was remanded on bail to reappear on October 8 for sentencing on all three charges.
Earlier in the trial, Crown prosecutor Truc Tran told the jury Higgins had been systemic in her offending.
“It is theft in the workplace by a receptionist. To cover her tracks she covered up entries in the accounting system.”
Practice director and dentist Barbara Cater employed Higgins around early 2011.
It was about the middle of the following year that Cater began to be concerned about how poorly her business was doing financially.
“It was at the time of the global financial crisis,” she told the court. “I just assumed my patients were opting for less expensive treatment or putting off their check-ups.”
Her staff had been asking for pay rises and there was no spare money in the business’ coffers, she said.
“Every month we were spending more money than we were making … It was happening all over the country. I just assumed it was happening at my business too.”
Cater said the situation was discussed at staff meetings, where she had to apologise to her staff for being unable to afford pay rises.
At no time did she think her staff could be stealing from her.
“It never entered my head. We were a close-knit team … I never thought to suspect anybody, ever.”
It was only after accepting the offer of a “mini audit” from an accountant that she became aware of some glaring discrepancies in the business’ accounts.
Patient treatments that in the business’ accounting system had been coded as eftpos payments and the amount of money going into the bank as eftpos payments did not correlate – at least one month to the tune of several thousand dollars.
Prior to determining that money had gone missing, Cater terminated Higgins’ employment, as she was suffering from alcohol-related issues that had begun to mar her performance.
GLEN DALE — Glen Dale police are investigating claims that an employee of Dr. Charles Wylie embezzled money from his practice while working as a receptionist.
According to Lt. Ed Vogler, Cynthia Hartley, 37, of Moundsville was arrested last week after Wylie told the police he noticed “suspicious activity” on some of his patients’ accounts.
Vogler said Wylie first alerted officers to the situation on Nov. 15 after a computer specialist noticed numerous irregularities in patients’ payment accounts and that he discovered many bank deposits were coming up short. He said he then added a password requirement to the computers for anyone wishing to change account information, and the money shortages were reduced but not stopped.
Police interviewed several patients Vogler said complained of receiving bills from the practice after they had made the payments to Hartley.
One told officers Hartley took her into the back of the office to collect a $400 payment, but the records at the time reflect only $200 was received — $150 in cash and a $50 check. Vogler said the record was later changed to reflect a $250 check payment. The same patient told the police that on another occasion she paid a $600 bill to Hartley — a $500 check and $100 in cash — but, according to Vogler, only the check was recorded in the office computer. That patient also said Hartley advised her she could not have a certain dental procedure done until she paid $2,000; she then allegedly told the patient she could make payments toward the work and Hartley would keep that a secret from the doctor.
On another occasion, a patient claimed she gave $4,000 in cash and $2,802 in a credit card payment to another receptionist while Hartley witnessed the transaction. That patient said the other receptionist did give her a receipt for the full payment, and the cash was put in the cash box. Vogler said when the receptionist counted down the box later that day, she noticed $1,000 in cash missing and told Hartley about it. The receptionist claimed Hartley instructed her to change the $4,000 payment to $3,000 in the system, adding that she (Hartley) would “take care of it later.” The receptionist also said Hartley advised her to keep this between them.
Hartley has been charged with felony embezzlement and is free on $2,500 bond. If found guilty, Hartley could spend 10 years in prison.
Content retrieved from http://www.theintelligencer.net/news/community/2007/12/receptionist-charged-with-embezzlement/
GLEN DALE — Additional charges have been brought against a receptionist of Dr. Charles Wiley who was accused in November of embezzling from her employer.
According to Moundsville Police, Cynthia Hartley, 37, has been charged with forgery and fraudulent use of a credit card in addition to charges of felony embezzlement.
The embezzlement charges were brought against Hartley in December after Wiley reported “suspicious activity” on some of his patients accounts. Officers later spoke with several patients who claim they made payments for dental work to Hartley, but thousands of dollars worth of those payments were never recorded in the patients payment accounts.
Now, another employee has come forward, alleging Hartley stole her credit card while on the job and used it to purchase a cellular phone.
Police said the employee reported the card was stolen between June and November of last year, around the same time the money turned up missing. The monthly statement the employee received from the credit card company reflected a $246 purchase from the Moundsville Wal-mart on Nov. 2, and police said they have obtained video surveillance of Hartley making that purchase.
Hartley was taken to the Northern Regional Jail and released on $5,000 bond for the forgery and fraud charges. If found guilty, she could spend 1-10 years in prison for the embezzlement charges, 1-10 years for the forgery charge, and 1-10 years for the fraud charge.
Plea negotiations are in the works for a former receptionist accused of embezzling more than $1,000 from a Glen Dale doctor’s office.
In Marshall County Circuit Court last week, Thomas White and David Zehnder, defense attorneys for Cynthia Hartley, 37, of Moundsville, informed Judge Mark Karl that they are in talks with the prosecution.
“We are in the branching stages of that,” White said.
Assistant Marshall County Prosecuting Attorney David Hummel concurred.
In July, Hartley was indicted on one count each of embezzlement, forgery and fraudulent use of a credit card following an investigation by the Glen Dale Police Department.
The embezzlement charges were brought against Hartley in December after Dr. Charles Wylie reported “suspicious activity” on some of his patients’ accounts. Officers later spoke with several patients who claim they made payments for dental work to Hartley, but thousands of dollars worth of those payments were never recorded in the patients’ payment accounts.
In January 2008, an employee reported Hartley allegedly stole a credit card while at work, then used it to purchase a cellular phone.
Judge Karl scheduled Hartley to re-appear at 1:15 p.m. Oct. 1 for further proceedings.
According to West Virginia Code, embezzlement, forgery and fraud charges each carry a sentence of one to 10 years in prison.
HAMLIN – Dental practices in Hamlin and Alum Creek claim embezzlement of at least $250,000 by a veteran employee, and allege that in three months prior to her Hawaiian vacation last year, there were no cash payments recorded.
Dentists William J. Artrip and Carol V. Buffington accuse former employee LaDonna Johnson, who worked as receptionist in the Hamlin office and received and attended to depositing receipts. She was terminated in June. Her responsibilities included scheduling appointments, receiving and crediting cash and other payments from patients, inputting payment information and credits into management software, making bank deposits and billing paperwork.
The complaint tells of Artrip performing a seven-tooth extraction on June 11, 2011, then witnessing the patient giving $700 cash to Defendant.
“Dr. Artrip took the cash and checks to be deposited home with him,” the complaint says.”Dr. Artrip reviewed the deposit slip (prepared by Johnson) and… to his surprise, the $700 in cash he saw Patient A deliver to the Defendant did not appear on the deposit ticket and there was no cash to be deposited.”
Johnson was not at work June 12, and Dr. Artrip was unable to account for the $700, the suit says. On June 14, Artrip met with Defendant, explained accounting discrepancies and terminated her.
Three weeks later, an envelope containing $700 was discovered in a cabinet beside Defendant’s computer, the suit says. When Johnson filed for unemployment compensation she was found to have committed misconduct during that process, according to the complaint.
Review of computer accounting records and patient charts, the complaint says, determined cash payments and other funds in large amounts were misappropriated. The plaintiff retained a forensic accountant to analyze computer accounting records and charts, with four specific schemes identified that converted and misappropriated more than $250,000, according to complaint.
“As a direct and proximate result of the Defendant’s embezzlement and conversion,” the complaint says, “the Plaintiff has suffered financial loss and harm in an amount not yet ascertained, but which upon information and belief is no less than $250,000.”
If embezzlement is found to have happened and an amount is fully determined, the plaintiffs want jury judgment for that amount against defendant, plus pre-and-post-judgment interest, punitive damages and litigation costs. Imposition of a constructive trust equitable lien is requested on any other items of value wrongly in Johnson’s possession, along with such other relief deemed just and proper.
Trial date to be determined for Lincoln Circuit Court, where Judge Jay M. Hoke presides. Attorney Thomas H. Ewing of Charleston is representing the plaintiffs.