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Feb 2016 • Kennewick, WA : A suspended dental hygienist working as an office manager has admitted using prescription software to get painkillers for herself.
Nicole B. Allenton, 44, is facing one year in the county jail for forging numerous prescriptions.
It wasn’t her first time using the software to commit fraud.
In 2012, Allenton — then using the last name Polus — was busted for helping pull off a sophisticated scheme while working at another Kennewick dental office.
That came four years after allegations surfaced in her divorce case that Allenton had called in prescriptions not authorized by her employer. She then reported the violations to her employer, and ended up being placed on two years of probation by the Washington state Department of Health.
Kennewick police Detective Rick Runge has investigated Allenton’s cases over the years and said the “sad thing is it isn’t a victimless crime.”
Dentist Kevin Osborne ended up closing American Family Dental not long after the fraud came to light, and dentist William C. Stout with Stout Family Dental had to rebuild his practice after the financial accounts were completely ruined four years ago, Runge told the Herald.
“I think doctors need to do better backgrounds as a whole, but also watch their software,” Runge said. “The problem is some doctors put too much faith in their employees and don’t have checks and balances on the prescriptions.”
I think doctors need to do better backgrounds as a whole, but also watch their software. The problem is some doctors put too much faith in their employees and don’t have checks and balances on the prescriptions.
Detective Rick Runge, Kennewick Police Department
Runge said medical professionals should be watching for is employees consistently coming in early, staying late or even stopping by the office on the weekend when they don’t have a legitimate reason to be at work. He also suggested they start verifying their prescriptions by checking the names of the patients and the drugs, and the quantity ordered.
Allenton had been the office manager for Osborne for about two months when someone recognized her from her time with Stout’s dental practice, according to court documents.
The person called in an anonymous tip to Kennewick police in late 2014, and Runge checked state Department of Licensing records to find out that Nicole Allenton and Nicole Polus were the same woman.
Osborne could not meet with Runge until January 2015. The dentist said he only had two employees who could access his prescription software, and the second person no longer worked for him, documents said.
Even though Osborne was not aware of any criminal activity in his office, Runge asked for a printout of all recent prescriptions that had been written with the software since he was familiar with Allenton’s history.
Runge said the dentist “was pretty shocked” to find at least 15 orders that he had not written, and to people who were not his patients. Runge recognized several of the names as Allenton’s family members.
Medical professionals should watch for employees who consistently come in early, stay late or stop by the office on weekends when they don’t have a legitimate reason to be at work. They also should verify their prescriptions by checking the names of the patients and the drugs, and the quantity ordered.
Osborne told the detective that when he prescribed a narcotic to a patient, it was printed out on special prescription paper that can be checked for fraud purposes. He also signed the document.
Runge retrieved all orders associated with Osborne’s office through the Washington state Prescription Monitoring Program and confirmed several fake prescriptions for painkillers that were printed out on legal paper.
The detective then got photographs and video from pharmacies where the prescriptions were filled and discovered the drop-off and pick-up times coincided with footage showing Allenton, court documents said.
Allenton pleaded guilty earlier this month in Benton County Superior Court to three counts of obtaining a controlled substance through fraud. The charges included the fact she used her position of trust to commit the crimes.
Deputy Prosecutor Andrew Howell is recommending jail time at the top of the standard range, though a judge can go above that because of the aggravating circumstances.
Howell also is asking that Allenton undergo a drug evaluation and follow the recommended treatment. Sentencing is set for Feb. 24.
Allenton also was charged with theft and admitted to stashing 21 makeup items in her purse while in the Sephora section of JCPenney last June, then walking out of the Columbia Center mall store without making any attempt to pay, documents show. The stolen goods were worth $764.
Allenton’s dental hygiene license was suspended in October 2012 when she failed to answer the Department of Health about her conviction earlier that year on two counts of obtaining a controlled substance through fraud.
She initially had been charged with eight felony counts for using her job to get painkillers.
Allenton had no criminal history at the time, and was sentenced to three months in the county jail. She was allowed to do the time on work crew or work release.