Feds: Vermont Dental Employees Stole Money, Obtained Drugs

Tammy Laroque and Lindsey Cox

SWANTON: Federal Law Enforcement Officers arrested two local women in connection with stolen prescription pads and money from a local dental office.

According to court records, Agents arrested Lindsey Cox of Swanton on December 4th. Tammy Larocque of St. Albans was arrested the same day.

Both women are accused of obtaining oxycodone by way of fraud.

In addition, Lindsay Cox is also accused of a second count of obtaining fraudulent oxycodone, as well as one count of embezzlement.

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Editor’s note — Lindsey Cox has apparently done this before — please see http://archive.tcpalm.com/news/st-lucie-county-pharmacy-tech-charged-with-stealing-almost-12000-pain-pills-ep-382466243-343196772.html?fbclid=IwAR0DJPS7SJzqQCNuG26Fm9m4w2DB3-1GquWNxUjh0nM92KS-zydyyXfKGDE

Clearly the dental office was unaware of this prior conviction.

The County Courier is the first news agency to report on this case.

Federal court records did not indicate how much money was missing, or the quantity of oxycodone the pair is accused of aquiring.

The pair worked at RVI Dental Center in St. Albans, according to court records.

Few details were available in the case, but the indictment for the pair indicated that the offenses dated back to at least May of 2016 and were not discovered until at least August of 2017.

According to the court records, Cox and Larocque were creating fake prescriptions by forging the signature of the doctor and filling the prescriptions at local pharmacies.

Prosecutors indicated in the indictment that there may be other people who helped with them to illegally obtain the drugs. It is unclear if more people will be charged in connection with these defendants.

It’s possible that others could be implicated and prosecuted in the course of the investigation and prosecution of these alleged crimes as prosecutors wrote

The case is being prosecuted by the Federal Prosecutor’s office in Burlington.

Both women were released on conditions, including that they do not discuss the case with anyone who may be a witness to the alleged crimes. They also must maintain or actively seek employment. Additionally, the women are prohibited from consuming drugs or alcohol while out on release.

Larocque is being represented by Robert Katims. Cox is being represented by the Federal Public Defender’s office.

Content retrieved from http://countycourier.net/2018/12/feds-dental-employees-stole-money-drugs/

UPDATE — Judge overturns plea bargain agreement for former dental office employee in Rutland, VT

blank Update May 2018: Deviating from a plea agreement, a Rutland County criminal court judge sentenced a Pittsford woman to serve six months in home confinement for what was described as eight-and-a-half years of embezzling from a dental practice, where the woman was so much a part of the family, she was a member of the dentist’s daughter’s bridal party. Karen Valach, 50, pleaded guilty to two felony charges of embezzlement in February under a plea agreement that called for her to be sentenced to no more than 28 days in prison. At a sentencing hearing on Tuesday, attorney T. Lamar Enzor, who represented Valach, asked Judge Thomas Zonay to consider ordering a sentence served under home confinement. After hearing statements by Dr. Michael Dick, former owner of Cornerstone Dentistry, and Dick’s daughter, Sarah Coote, Zonay told Enzor he would not be willing to consider a home confinement sentence unless it was longer than 28 days. Enzor said he had already discussed the possibility with his client and Valach told the judge she would accept a longer sentence without withdrawing her plea. Zonay also sentenced Valach to five years of probation. Enzor said Valach had also brought a bank check for more than $50,400 to reimburse Dick. At the end of the hearing, Enzor gave the check to Rutland County Deputy State’s Attorney Travis Weaver. Valach was accused of embezzling from Dick, and later from Dr. Sonia Yau after she bought the practice. One of the two embezzlement charges named Dick and the other named Yau. Valach had already made restitution of about $21,000 to Yau, Enzor said, and insurance covered the rest. Valach, who appeared to be in tears several times during the hearing, read a statement in which she apologized to her former co-workers. “The phrase, ‘I’m sorry’ seems very insignificant in light of what I’ve done, but I truly am very sorry. In my desperate mind, I felt like taking cash from my employer was much simpler than just letting my husband know what kind of financial trouble we were in. It did go on for a while, and I never stopped to realize just how much I was taking,” she said. Reading her statement, Coote said Valach had become “my mentor, my surrogate mother, a best friend and a support to me in both my personal and professional lives.” “On the most important day of my life, Karen stood up for me at my wedding. Ironically, she took money right before my wedding and right after,” Coote said. Coote said Valach had embezzled about $102,000 from the dental practice, where she handled money deposits, between 2009 and 2016. She condemned Valach for making “endless excuses” and failing to tell people at the practice about the extent of the embezzlement, even after it was first discovered. Coote said Valach had hurt the family by telling people she left Cornerstone “because her workmates were petty and there was animosity in the office.” Dick, who was part of a group of about 10 people connected with Cornerstone who attended the sentencing hearing, said the practice shared its profits with all the staff so when Valach embezzled, she was taking money from her coworkers as well. “Most importantly to me, Ms. Valach has not shown any remorse, acknowledgment or apology to me since the discovery. In the time frame between the initial discovery and charges being filed, a period of over five to six weeks, if Ms. Valach had ever contacted me, acknowledged the embezzlement, apologized and attempted to make restitution, I am sure we all would not be here in court today, spending time and taxpayer dollars on these proceedings,” he said. Dick asked Zonay to make sure “crime does not pay.” Valach’s husband, Tom Valach, said the situation had been “devastating” for his family. “She’s not a monster. She’s not a bad person,” he said. Tom Valach said he and his wife had been to counseling, taken a financial class and found a pastor to work with them. In her statement, Karen Valach said she hoped “one day my former coworkers won’t think of me in a hateful way but maybe as a person who has screwed up and can be forgiven.” On Tuesday, Zonay said the home confinement sentence was to start immediately.
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Content retrieved from https://www.rutlandherald.com/articles/embezzling-from-dentist-gets-woman-6-month-sentence/
Update Feb 2018: A Pittsford woman is facing about a month in jail after pleading guilty on Tuesday to two felony counts of embezzlement. Karen Valach, 50, was arraigned in Rutland criminal court last March on three felony counts of embezzlement after police said she took about $30,000 from Cornerstone Dentistry in Rutland. Valach worked at the front desk. A police affidavit said she handled the money deposits for the practice. Dr. Sonia Yau, the head of the practice, told the police Valach confessed to her in November 2016 she had been taking money from the practice since January of that year. Valach reached a plea agreement with the state Tuesday. The prosecution agreed they would ask for no more than three to five years in prison, with all that time suspended except for 28 days. The agreement caps the maximum restitution at $55,000. The defense is free to argue for a lower sentence. Once Valach is sentenced, the third embezzlement charge will be dismissed under the agreement. Sentencing is scheduled for May 29. Content retrieved from https://www.rutlandherald.com/articles/pittsford-woman-admits-embezzling-from-dentist/
Original story: Police said that a woman who worked for a local dentist’s office embezzled more than $100,000 over a period of almost eight years. Karen E. Valach, 49, of Pittsford, was cited on a single felony count of embezzlement. She is scheduled to appear in Rutland criminal court on March 13. Cpl. Adam Lucia, of the Rutland City Police Department, said in a statement that staff at Cornerstone Dentistry reported on Dec. 19 that an employee was suspected of fraudulent actions. After an investigation, police said Valach, a member of the office staff, had embezzled about $100,550 from January 2009 to November 2016. Valach was interviewed by officers with the Rutland City Police Department before being charged. Content retrieved from http://www.rutlandherald.com/articles/woman-accused-of-100k-embezzlement/

Bookkeeper accused of taking $60K from Vermont dentist


BRATTLEBORO, Vt. (AP) – A former bookkeeper at a Vermont dental office has pleaded not guilty to embezzling more than $60,000 from the business over several years.

The Brattleboro Reformer reports (http://bit.ly/1bI41RH) police said the investigation began in May when dentist Thomas Heydinger contacted authorities about suspected embezzlement by a former worker. He said a cash payment from a patient that was to be deposited by Penny Lussier didn’t appear on the deposit slip from the bank. An audit stemming back to 2009 showed $60,000 was missing. Lussier, of Gilford and Keene, New Hampshire, was fired May 12.

Police say she’s accused of writing checks payable to her from the dental practice.

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Content retrieved from http://www.washingtontimes.com/news/2014/jul/23/bookkeeper-accused-of-taking-60k-from-dentist/?utm_source=RSS_Feed&utm_medium=RSS

Vermont office worker receives six months sentence in $120k embezzlement

valerie mason

A dental office employee in Lamoille County will spend six months in jail for embezzlement. Police say Valerie Mason, 37, of Wolcott, stole $120,000 from Gary Morris’ dental office in Morrisville. She allegedly wrote more than 120 unauthorized checks over two and a half years. Along with the jail time, Mason was ordered to pay $92,000– the amount of the financial loss not covered by the dental office’s insurance company.
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Central Vermont Woman Charged with Embezzling from Dentist

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Allison Schy, 55, pleaded not guilty in Washington County criminal court in Barre Thursday to a felony count of embezzlement and a felony count of theft of services. If convicted, she faces a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison. According to the affidavit of Detective Stephen Nolan of the Montpelier police, dentist Dr. Kenneth Kero reported to police in November he believed one of the employees from his Montpelier office was taking money from his business. Kero named Schy, his office manager of seven years, as the suspect. Kero told the police he had discovered problems in billing ledgers, with $4,000 in discrepancies found from January 2014 until May 2014. He said it appeared Schy would give him one copy of the ledger and then go back and change the ledger to add more billings. After Kero had a certified public accountant look at his books, he told the police Schy took at least $48,000, with another $20,000 that was “questionable.” “I believe that my office manager has been stealing by taking patient payments (cash and/or checks) provided that day and by not reflecting the day sheet provided to me,” Kero said in a statement. “She then would go back into the system either after I left or on another date and add the payment or change the payment date so that they would not show up later with the patient owing a balance.” Police put a recording device on Kero before he and Schy had a face-to-face conversation in his office in December. Nolan said Kero accused Schy of stealing from him. She responded by saying she was “astonished” by the accusation, and wanted to see proof and have a chance to defend herself. Nolan said Kero showed Schy the ledgers and the discrepancies and she said they must have been a “mis-entry”and she may have entered an “incorrect payment.” Nolan said Schy eventually admitted to Kero that what she did was wrong and agreed to pay him back though she maintained she wasn’t aware of exactly what she did. He said Schy also confessed to Kero that she may have an addiction to painkillers. Nolan said Schy told Kero she was “desperate” and when people are desperate they do desperate things. Kero was again fitted with a wire later in December for an additional conversation in which Nolan reported Schy admitting to helping patients who were underinsured or uninsured by giving them discounts. Nolan said Schy also admitted that some of the missing funds were due to her drug abuse. In an effort to pay back the money owed, Nolan said Schy gave Kero $10,000 in January and paid back another $4,591 by signing over her paychecks from Kero’s office to the dentist. Nolan said she quit her job in April.