JAN-2017, MANSFIELD – Insook Chung never suspected her office manager was stealing nearly $340,000 from her.
Yatika Wallace, 43, took $339,198 from the Get Well Center, an alternative medicine practitioner at 635 S. Trimble Road. The business is owned by D & I Associates.
Wallace, who pleaded guilty in September in federal court to one count of theft or embezzlement in connection with health care, was sentenced this month to six months in federal prison and ordered to make restitution.
She took money in the form of checks belonging to her employer between March 2011 and January 2015, then converted the money for her own personal use.
Chung was the business agent. In her statement in federal court, Chung said Wallace was 19 when they met. Wallace ended up working for her for 15 years, advancing from secretary to office manager.
“I never doubted my trust in her — even when things did not go straightforward — and always gave her the benefit of the doubt, believing her side of the story,” Chung said in court. “I never thought that she was cheating me and hurting me behind my back for so many years.”
In his sentencing memorandum to Judge Benita Pearson, public defender Stephen Newman lobbied for probation for his client.
“There is no question that Ms. Wallace committed a very serious violation of the law, which involved a substantial amount of money,” Newman wrote. “… The question becomes: What is the appropriate punishment for this contrite, employed mother of three who effectively has no criminal history and has suffered from mental health problems for years?”
Newman said Wallace began seeing a psychiatrist after she was indicted.
Local attorney John Allen, who represents Chung, said he didn’t think his client would ever be repaid. He would like to have seen a harsher penalty.
“My research would indicate she would have gotten a stiffer sentence in Richland County Common Pleas Court,” he said.
Allen said the theft was “devastating” to the business.
“Their (Chung and her late husband Hoyoung) whole purpose was to help people,” the attorney said. “That’s hard to do when you’re struggling to meet payroll.”
Allen said Wallace didn’t use the money for necessities.
“Some of it was for expensive purses, shoes,” he said.
In her statement to the court, Chung said she borrowed money from credit lines and credit cards to cover expenses.
“She (Wallace) caused so much trauma to our clinic, and we are still trying to recover from the injuries,” Chung said. “She broke my trust. She broke my relationships with patients.
“She broke me financially.”