Hiltz & Associates Blog
Fraud, Embezzlement and Risk in the Dental Office
LANSING – Patients at a pulmonary care practice in Lansing face increased wait times ever since an office manager embezzled nearly $800,000 from the business, said a partner at the firm.
Speaking at a sentencing hearing for Ruthanne Finn, a 67-year-old Bath woman who pleaded guilty to the crime, Dr. David Young said his practice is having a hard time hiring physicians because of the financial damage the firm has suffered.
The practice, Pulmonary & Critical Care Consultants, is “probably responsible for 95% of the pulmonary practice in this area,” Young said. “We really need to be at eight physicians. We’re currently at six.”
Finn pleaded guilty in October to one count of embezzling $20,000 to $50,000. In exchange for her plea, prosecutors dropped a charge of embezzling $100,000 or more.
>She worked as an office manager for the firm from 2002 until she retired in 2016, according to court records obtained by the State Journal.
Lansing Police Detective Jake Sinke testified in a court hearing in May that Finn had managed payroll and other financial aspects of the business. From January 2010 until January of this year, Finn wrote herself 346 checks totaling $792,806.77, Sinke testified.
“Civilized society is based on trust,” Young told Judge Clinton Canady III during the hearing in Ingham County Circuit Court. “This is a person that we trusted completely, absolutely, like family for all of those 15 years or so she worked for us.”
“They placed their trust in me and I betrayed that trust,” Finn later responded. “I can’t even forgive myself so I can’t ask them for forgiveness.”
Young told Canady he’d like to see Finn spend time in jail, but his primary goal is restitution.
Finn paid back $120,000 when she reached the plea deal, but Canady said it’s unlikely she’ll be able to pay off much of the remaining $672,806.
“She may make a small contribution,” Canady said. “But the reality is with these embezzlement cases, when defendants come before me, they always say ‘I’m going to work and pay it back.’ There’s no way she can pay back $600,000.”
Canady ordered Finn to spend nine months in Ingham County jail, followed by a five-year probation term.
Prosecutors had asked for a lengthy probation term in an effort to ensure Finn repays as much of the money as possible, Chief Assistant Ingham County Prosecutor Lisa McCormick previously said.
A doctor affiliated with the organization contacted the new office manager earlier this year when he noticed profits were down and bonuses were smaller than in the past, Sinke testified.
The new office manager found that Finn had written checks to herself but documented them as being written to vendors.