Washington Woman Pleads Guilty to Filing False Insurance Claims

Update July 31, 2018:

Katherine Hargarten, 67, pleaded guilty in Island County Superior Court to first-degree theft and filing a false insurance claim, both felonies. Hargarten, a former dental clinic office manager, will serve three months of electronic home monitoring and 240 hours of community service. She will pay $817 in court fees and a restitution amount to be determined later.

According to the investigation, Hargarten filed 55 claims with MetLife insurance from June 2008 to June 2015 totaling $17,908 on behalf of her husband. Most of the claims – 38 – were for treatment that never occurred; the remainder were treatments the dentist provided to employees for free. The dentist discovered the questionable claims and reported them to MetLife, which in turn reported them to Kreidler’s CIU, as required by state law. The dentist’s office terminated Hargarten’s employment in January 2016.

Content retrieved from: https://tacomaweekly.com/daily-mash-up/two-women-sentenced-after-attempting-insurance-fraud/

Original story:

The former office manager for an Oak Harbor dentist is accused of stealing thousands of dollars by making false insurance claims, court documents say.

Prosecutors charged Katherine D. Hargarten, 66, of Coupeville, in Island County Superior Court March 14 with theft in the first degree and five counts of making false claim for a health care payment.

The fraudulent insurance claims were discovered during a 2015 audit by the dentist who purchased the practice from another dentist. Hargarten worked for both men.

Hargarten allegedly filed claims in her name and her husband’s name. The checks from the insurance company went directly to her husband, according to a report by a detective with the Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

Hargarten is suspected of obtaining nearly $18,000 in fraudulent benefits from 55 fraudulent claims, the report states.

If convicted of the charges against her, Hargarten could face from 14 to 18 months in prison under the standard sentencing range.

Content retrieved from: http://www.whidbeynewstimes.com/news/woman-66-accused-of-filing-bogus-dental-claims/

WA dental hygienist charged with cleaning up in $81,000-plus workers’ comp scam

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Seattle – A dental hygienist faces a felony theft charge after she was caught working while receiving more than $81,000 in workers’ compensation disability payments.

Shari Lee Kristiansen, 53, of Lynnwood, faces one count of first-degree theft. She’s slated to be arraigned in King County Superior Court on Thursday, Nov. 3.

The Washington Attorney General’s Office is prosecuting the case based on an investigation by the Department of Labor & Industries (L&I), which administers the state workers’ compensation system.

A routine comparison of L&I and state Employment Security Department records turned up the alleged double-dipping.

“We have checks in place to catch workers’ comp thieves,” said Elizabeth Smith, assistant director of L&I’s Fraud Prevention & Labor Standards. “If you’re even thinking of trying to scam the system that helps legitimately injured workers, forget about it!”

Misrepresentations to doctors

Kristiansen filed a claim with L&I in March 2013, saying she injured her thumbs and hands while working as a dental hygienist for several dentists in King and Snohomish counties. However, charging papers state, she misrepresented her activities and the extent of her injuries to her physicians, who relied on her statements to tell L&I that she couldn’t work as a dental hygienist.

L&I provided benefits to Kristiansen, including cash payments to make up for part of her lost wages. To confirm she was eligible, Kristiansen repeatedly stated on official forms that she couldn’t work, and wasn’t working, because of the on-the-job injury.

But an L&I investigation later found she continued to work for various dentists from the time she was injured through May 2013, and then for 11 months starting in late October 2014, charging papers said.

In all, L&I paid nearly $57,000 in wage-replacement checks to Kristiansen, more than $19,000 for medical benefits and nearly $6,000 for vocational counseling.

Content retrieved from: http://lni.wa.gov/News/2016/pr161102a.asp

Pullman WA woman sentenced for embezzling $437,000

A former office manager for a Pullman dentist has been sentenced to 30 months in prison for embezzling $437,000 from her employer over 12 years.

Debora Jo Ailor, 47, of Pullman was sentenced this week by U.S. District Court Judge Lonny Suko after pleading guilty to one count of mail fraud.

Ailor had worked as the office manager for Dr. Delbert Rohn, a Pullman dentist, since the 1980s.

Ailor prepared about 50 checks each month to be drawn on Rohn’s checking account to pay operating expenses and payroll for his practice and to pay his personal expenses, according to a plea agreement.

On essentially a monthly basis, from February 1992 through July 2004, Ailor prepared an additional check that she used to pay bills for a credit card her family used to charge personal expenses – clothes, restaurant meals, entertainment and regional travel, U.S. Attorney Jim McDevitt said in a news release.

Her employer was unaware that one of the checks his office manager presented to him in the monthly stack represented payment for her family’s personal expenses, McDevitt said. She concealed the embezzlement from Rohn and an accountant who prepared his taxes by allocating the funds to expense accounts such as office supplies, dental supplies and the owner’s salary, McDevitt said.

The judge also ordered Ailor to serve three years of supervised release when she gets out of prison and make restitution to Rohn in the amount of $445,113.

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.spokesman.com/stories/2008/jul/05/in-brief-coe-seeks-new-commitment-trial-venue/

Office manager for Tacoma WA doctors accused of taking $1 million-plus faces judgment

Eight Tacoma-area doctors have won a lawsuit against a longtime office manager they accused of taking more than $1 million.

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Read more here: http://www.theolympian.com/news/local/article25262419.html#storylink=cpy

Washington bookkeeper charged with embezzling $745,000 from Richland doctor


A woman who managed the books for a Richland doctor’s office is accused of stealing $745,000 from her employer over at least four years.

Jennifer L. Morris, 42, is believed to have bought jewelry and purses, taken numerous trips and paid for dog boarding and cellphone services with the money, according to court documents.

The alleged embezzlement was discovered after an internal investigation by Dr. Robert L. Whitson.

Morris was an hourly employee for the family practice at 846 Stevens Drive, working an estimated four to eight hours a month.

She removed financial documents from the office and took them to her home, possibly to cover the theft, documents said.

Whitson said Morris worked for him for 12 years.

“She had my faith completely; 100 percent trust,” Whitson said Tuesday. “I was enormously disappointed.”

He told the Herald that it’s like a marriage — the divorce rate may be 50 percent, but people still go into the union expecting more.

“It was preposterous,” Whitson said of Morris’ alleged actions. “And it’s almost no way there could be any kind of defense mounted, there were so many legal oversights and omissions.”

Morris has been charged in Benton County Superior Court with first-degree theft. The charge includes the aggravating circumstance of being a major economic offense.

Deputy Prosecutor Terry Bloor alleges Morris used her position of trust and a high degree of sophistication or planning to commit multiple incidents over a long period of time.

Morris was sent a summons to appear in court Sept. 15.

She has hired Kennewick lawyer John Jensen, who declined to comment Tuesday because he has not yet received any investigative reports.

Court documents say Morris declined to speak with the lead investigator on her case, Richland police Detective Damon Jansen.

However, when Pasco police Officer Eric Fox was called to her home on an unrelated matter, she told him “that she had done something really stupid and was going to prison for five to 10 years,” documents said.

The allegations of embezzlement are based on U.S. Cellular accounts, credit card statements, eBay and PayPal documents, Whitson’s bank statements, Costco records and other paperwork found at Morris’ home, Bloor said.

The investigation revealed that $744,496 was taken from Whitson’s business account between January 2012 and February 2016.

Morris was due $6.70 per pay period because of her limited hours. Yet, she wrote herself payroll checks as if she was working full time, usually repeating the same amount twice a month, starting at $1,100 in 2012 and increasing to $1,600 by 2016, court documents show.

Her son was not an employee of Whitson’s practice, but did some janitorial work in the office. While there are checks written to him that are supported by legitimate time cards, there are other checks in small amounts like $28 and $206, according to the documents.

Morris allegedly used the doctor’s account to make frequent electronic fund transfers to cover payments on her mother’s Chase credit card. Though the individual transfers ranged from $1,000 to $10,425, documents show there were some months she would make up to seven payments within a few weeks.

Her mother, Bonnie Morris, reportedly told investigators that she let her daughter use her credit card, though she did not know the extent to which she was using it.

She claimed that Jennifer Morris was buying purses with the card to resell them, but also knew she had been spending large amounts of money and suddenly had “bunches” of jewelry and taken different trips, court documents said. Bonnie Morris said she thought her daughter had stolen about $300,000.

A search of Jennifer Morris’ home allegedly turned up several bookshelves filled with purses still in their packages, and multiple bags of jewelry.

Whitson told police that he bought all the office supplies, so he didn’t know why there would be multiple Costco charges on his account. Detectives reportedly recovered lists of some purchases and noted that it is clear the expenses, for hundreds of dollars each time, were for personal items.

Whitson and another employee had cellphones that were paid for by the business. He did not authorize Morris to buy four tablets and pay for her personal cellphone accounts that were in his name, court documents said.

On Tuesday, Bloor said that no charges have been filed against Morris’ son or mother.

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

Read more here: http://www.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/crime/article101689612.html#storylink=cpy

Washington Woman Must Repay Dentist $101,798

Davenport resident Debra Remmers was ordered Tuesday to repay $101,798 she embezzled as the bookkeeper for a local dentist.

Lincoln County Superior Court Judge Philip Borst also tacked on $10,000 to cover attorney and accounting fees dentist Doug Teal paid to document his loss.

Borst agreed to deduct about $7,000 if Remmers can prove her claim that the money actually was used to pay Teal’s income tax.

Remmers was convicted of raiding Teal’s bank account between January 1991 and August 1993. She pleaded guilty in September to first-degree theft and was sentenced to 90 days of monitored home-confinement, 240 hours of community service and five years of probation.

Remmers previously agreed in a private contract to repay Teal his estimated total loss of $135,000.

Snow said Remmers already has paid $76,368, mostly with money from the sale of one of her two Davenport houses. She may be forced, under her agreement with Teal, to sell the second house, Snow said.

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

Yakima WA employee accused of stealing nearly $50k from non-profit dental clinic

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YAKIMA, Wash. – A 31-year-old man is facing charges after police say he stole nearly $50,000 from the Union Gospel Mission’s (UGM) dental clinic.

Moises Licea-Velasquez worked at the Union Gospel Mission from 2013 to 2015 say police and was in charge of billing patients for dental procedures.

Court documents say Licea-Velasquez stole approximately $49, 794.25 from the mission by taking money from patient payments and doctoring the paperwork so it looked like patient’s accounts were paid in full.

A doctor at the dental clinic noticed the discrepancies and filed a report with Yakima police according to court documents. The doctor sent police the missing amounts from the clinic’s patient payments.

Court documents say Licea-Velasquez admitted to stealing the money. Licea-Velasquez told police he took the money to finance a gambling habit, according to court documents.

The Union Gospel Mission’s Director of Communication and Marketing, Stephanie Carlson released this statement in regards to the theft:

“We’re letting the court system handle this and we’re excited about the expansion of the medical clinic, and that’s where we’re putting in our efforts.”

Court document say UGM absorbed the loss of the monies, and they were able to cover it under insurance.

Licea-Velasquez turned himself in to Yakima police on Thursday.

The mission is completely run on donations, according to their website.

Licea-Velasquez was released on the pre-trial program in Yakima County Court Friday.

Spokane area woman admitted to embezzlement

The former receptionist for a Pasco dental office has admitted to stealing at least $8,600 by pocketing cash payments from customers.

Marcie Ramirez, 37, pleaded guilty in Franklin County Superior Court to first-degree theft.

In her plea statement, Ramirez told the court she took money from several people and kept it, rather than applying the payment to the accounts.

Her plea includes a promise by prosecutors that they won’t file any more charges for theft or fraud involving customers of Broadmoor Family Dentistry.

Court documents show Ramirez was confronted last year by the owner, Dr. Navjot Khurana, and office manager Oscar Garcia about the missing money.

She admitted that when some customers who didn’t have insurance paid with cash, she gave them handwritten receipts but actually pocketed the money.

Ramirez signed an agreement with the owner that she would return the money by June 10. When she did not pay up by the deadline or contact Khurana or Garcia, the office called Pasco police to report the theft, documents said.

Garcia gave police a list of clients with the amounts missing from their accounts. He later told a detective that the dental office was going to credit the clients’ accounts and take the loss.

The Sunnyside woman was sentenced to three months in jail, with the option to serve it on work release to help pay restitution and court costs.

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.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/crime/article55112915.html

Kennewick, Washington police accuse 3 of dental office prescription drug scheme

Two employees of a Kennewick dental office are accused of pulling off a sophisticated scheme involving at least 167 forged prescriptions.

Nicole Bernice Polus and Chareise Louise Raugust, along with her fiance, Miljan Ignjatic, allegedly wrote, called in or picked up fraudulent prescriptions in the Tri-Cities during a four-year period, police said.

“There were so many names … including fictitious names,” Kennewick police Detective Rick Runge told the Herald. “It is just so large, we just went with the suspects’ names and family” to try to track the forgeries.

Polus and Ignjatic made their first appearances Thursday in Benton County Superior Court and pleaded innocent to several charges of obtaining a controlled substance through fraud.

Polus, 40, faces an April 9 trial on eight charges of fraudulently obtaining Lorcet and Vicodin. The charges include the aggravating factor that she used a position of trust to commit the crime. Polus was a dental hygienist in William Craig Stout’s dental office.

Ignjatic, 34, is charged with six counts of obtaining Lorcet, hydrocodone and diazepam through fraud. His trial is also set for April 9.

Raugust, who was Stout’s office manager, pleaded innocent to one count of obtaining a controlled substance — hydrocodone — through fraud, with the aggravating factor that she used a position of trust to commit the crime.

She also was in court Thursday. Her trial is April 9.

Kennewick police began investigating the case in September after getting an anonymous tip through Tri-Cities Crime Stoppers claiming that employees at Stout Family Dental were embezzling money, forging prescriptions and providing free dental care.

Runge was assigned to investigate the tip and contacted Stout, who “was shocked, to say the least.”

Through the investigation, Runge contacted four pharmacies and found 167 forged prescriptions that had allegedly been authorized by Stout and Navdeep Virk, who owned the dental practice before Stout bought it in October 2010.

Stout bought new software for prescriptions and one suspect was using the old system to write various prescriptions for herself, her husband and other people, Runge said.

He said the other suspect was “just forging prescriptions and calling them in.”

According to court documents, Polus called in several unauthorized prescriptions in the name of herself, her relatives, Raugust and Raugust’s relatives. Stout and Virk were contacted by police and both said they did not authorize the medications.

Raugust’s charge stems from two prescriptions that were called in for her son, Jaden Raugust-Gonzales, documents said.

Raugust-Gonzales told Runge that he asked his mother if she could get him prescriptions for a toothache. She asked Stout, but Stout said he would not approve the prescription unless he was able to see Raugust-Gonzales in the office first, documents said. Raugust-Gonzales never was examined.

Ignjatic is accused of picking up forged prescriptions that had been called in to pharmacies in his name.

Runge credited Tyler Varnum, with the state Board of Pharmacy, with helping him understand the prescription process as he investigated the case. Varnum came to the Tri-Cities twice to go to pharmacies with Runge, he said.

Runge said he traced the scheme back to 2007, but because many fictitious names were used, it was difficult to track them all down to try to connect them back to the suspects.

“Just trying to get a handle on it and tracking all the names” was the biggest challenges to the investigation, he said.

This is not the first time, however, that Polus allegedly called in fraudulent prescriptions. In 2008, she self-reported to the state Department of Health, her employer and police that she called in three unauthorized prescriptions for diazepam, according to Department of Health records.

Polus, who has had a state dental hygiene license since 1997, admitted the violations after the allegations surfaced during her divorce proceeding, records said.

Richland police investigated the prescription fraud allegations between June and December 2005, said Capt. Mike Cobb. It was reported by Polus on June 10, 2008.

The police report was forwarded to the Benton County Prosecutor’s Office, but no charges were filed. Benton County Prosecutor Andy Miller said the report indicated that Polus was very cooperative and remorseful, and the statute of limitations had passed.

Polus was, however, placed on a two-year probation by the state Department of Health after she cooperated with the investigation and expressed a “willingness to undergo a substance abuse assessment,” records show.

Polus was required to get a drug evaluation and complete a program, if recommended, retake the dental hygienist drug and law exam within six months, and pay a $1,000 reimbursement to the Dental Hygienist Program.

It is not known if Polus followed through with the requirements of her probation, but no other action has been taken against her by the health department, according to online records.

Her dental hygiene license was renewed Oct. 28, 2011.

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.tri-cityherald.com/news/local/crime/article32043666.html

Two Washington dental employees charged with submitting false insurance claims

Robin Loewen
Robin Loewen

Two former employees at a Liberty Lake dental clinic are accused of making false insurance claims in excess of $17,000 using a company computer system.

Kendel Sonsalla, 38, and Robin Loewen, 46, were charged this week with two counts of false insurance claims and one count of first-degree theft in Spokane County Superior Court. Both worked at Condon Dental in Liberty Lake.

The insurance company Aflac paid Sonsalla $6,470 for 19 false claims and Loewen more than $10,800 for 32 false claims they filed using family members’ names between June 2010 and March 2014, according to court documents. They allegedly filed billings using the company computer system and printed out the documents, then deleted the electronic versions before they appeared on account ledgers.

“It’s no different from going into a grocery and stealing off the shelf, or a jewelry store,” said Dr. Michael Condon, the owner of the clinic, whose brother is Spokane Mayor David Condon. “It’s no different to me.”

Condon said both women quit their jobs during the investigation, and no money was stolen directly from patients.

Sonsalla’s ex-husband tipped off Aflac to the false claims in April 2013, court documents say. The investigation was carried out by the state Office of the Insurance Commissioner.

Both women face up to 364 days in prison and fines of up to $5,000

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.spokesman.com/stories/2015/jul/31/in-brief-two-accused-of-dental-claim-scheme/?print-friendly