Dental receptionist accused of embezzling $250K

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. Case number 12-C-155

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