Dental Bookkeeper indicted for embezzlement to payback payday loans

Inside Subprime: October 9, 2019

By Grace Austin

A dentist office’s bookkeeper in South Dakota is going to jail and paying restitution for stealing thousands from her boss to pay for a gambling habit and payday loans.

In August 2019, the dental bookkeeper was sentenced to five years of suspended prison time and 90 days of jail time that can be served with electronic monitoring. She is also required to pay more than $100,000 in restitution.

She pled guilty to embezzlement in July 2019. She faced up to 15 years in prison for the crime, and two counts of grand theft embezzlement.

The case has made national headlines since it first broke in 2018.

The bookkeeper was accused of stealing over $120,000 from a Sioux Falls dentist over seven years’ time, from 2011 to 2018. The prosecution maintained that she stole for longer; however seven years is the statute of limitations in the state for the crime.

The bookkeeper worked for the same dentist for decades. When she retired and the dentist’s office was sold, the embezzlement eventually came to light.

The dental office changed hands in February 2018. The bookkeeper continued to work for the new business and stole an additional $8,000 from her new employer.

The tip-off to her crimes crimes was a minimal monetary transaction. As a local TV station described, in May 2018, another office employee discovered a missing $100 cash payment for a dental exam, realizing that someone was making changes to the cash and check payments from customers.

The bookkeeper told police she altered payment records at the two dental practices to pocket cash. Then she would “change the entry in the software system, remove the money from the nightly deposits, and later adjust the daily financial report so it matched payments and receipts,” according to KELO-TV. Her initials would show up as the user who altered the transaction in the system.

Her public defender said she never touched insurance documents, which prosecutors had suspected.

A local TV station reported from court documents that the bookkeeper told authorities she was stealing money for video lottery gambling and due to “payday loans and loneliness.”

Her attorney said she’s now completed treatment for gambling.

At the sentencing, she apologized to the victims. The dentist said he was heartbroken since he viewed his longtime bookkeeper as family, and the crime had taken a toll on him both emotionally and physically.

The dentist that took over the practice said that they lost resources, employee morale declined, and the practice was stagnant because of the crime.

Learn more about payday loans, scams, and cash advances by checking out our city and state financial guides, including Chicago, Illinois, Florida, and Texas.