Dental office assistant arrested on white collar crime charges

Professional offices often handle hefty volumes of incoming cash and outgoing paperwork. In Louisiana, for example, many medical and dental offices take in substantial cash payments from their patients. Also, they process a great deal of paperwork pertaining to insurance claims. These activities open the door to temptation and to the potential for white collar crime.

That was the scenario of events revealed by the recent arrest of a 36-year-old Louisiana woman on charges of false accounting, felony theft, and computer fraud against the dental office where she worked. The felony theft charges appear to focus on accusations of the embezzlement of cash payments made by patients for their dental bills. The computer fraud concerns assertions that she created phony records in order to steal insurance payments on nonexistent claims that she manufactured.

It's not uncommon for employees, even very trusted ones, to be accused of this kind of white collar crime in the workplace. In some cases, however, the charges may be difficult to prove. For one thing, several employees may have been able to access cash held in a small professional office. Also, cash may be initially received and processed by different employees. These circumstances make it difficult to determine precisely who handled or accessed cash at any particular point in time.

Another dynamic that occurs is where the employer and the police collectively focus on one obvious employee who is well positioned to have committed the crimes. This leads to an early theory of prosecution that resists revision even in the face of later-developing facts pointing elsewhere. In that event, the accused person will understandably want to wage a strong defense against the charges.

Conversely, where white collar crime charges in Louisiana are clearly supported by overwhelming evidence, an accused will in most instances do far better by negotiating a plea agreement. Such an agreement must be carefully crafted to cover the full range of important legal issues that apply. That concern goes hand-in-hand with the usual caution: the terms of an agreement must be finely-tuned to the needs and variations of the individual case at hand.

Source: ksla.com, "Benton woman charged with employee theft," Willard Woods, Feb. 7, 2013

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