Dentists Often Embezzled – Thieves Rarely Prosecuted

Dentists often embezzled, but thieves rarely sent to prisonDentist office embezzlement is a major issue at dental practices, but most dentists don’t even realize how widespread the problem of dental embezzlement is.

I’m a total cynic when it comes to dentists being embezzled. I’ve spent over 20 years uncovering over 100 thefts. I’m fully convinced that it happens all the time. (In fact, one of my surveys found that most dentists report being embezzled.)

The vast majority of embezzlement cases never go to trial. (And we’re not even talking about all the theft that is never even uncovered in the first place!) Usually, the offender is fired, and that’s it. If charges are filed, 9 out 10 times there will be a plea bargain which results in probation for a first-time offender.

Only on rare occasions do you see the dental embezzler fully prosecuted and taken through the court system. This only happens if the case has has been fully investigated, all the details uncovered, and everything tied up with a big bow by the doctor (and the the doctor’s attorney and private investigator) and handed to the district attorney for prosecution.

Recently, one such case resulted in a five-year prison sentence for the miscreant. The 25-year-old woman, a Texas dentist’s financial clerk, pleaded guilty. Here’s the news report:

U.S. District Judge Hilda Tagle… sentenced [defendant Claire Batsell] to 69 months in federal prison on a count of fraudulent use of dental patient identification information and a count of aggravated identity theft.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office said Batsell used patient information to open and bill credit card accounts for services. In addition, she pocketed cash payments made by the patients…

Dentist DavidPedley was unaware of Batsell’s scheme and said her actions almost destroyed his practice and damaged his reputation…

In a statement before Tagle, Pedley said the thefts 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.”

– Laura B. Martinez, The Brownsville Herald

While it’s morally satisfying to see someone held accountable for their wrongdoing, I have to say: if it was just the doctor losing money, this case probably wouldn’t have been prosecuted. Identity theft is a hot consumer issue right now… while employees stealing from their dentist employer is somehow stale and commonplace.

View all our stories about dental practice embezzlement


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