An office manager of a small dental practice in Mason City, Iowa who embezzled nearly $500,000 from her employer over the course of almost a decade pled guilty Tuesday in federal court in Cedar Rapids.
Pamela Harris FKA “Pamela Mahoney,” 58, from Mason City, Iowa, was convicted of wire fraud. In a plea agreement, Harris admitted she was a trusted employee of the dental practice for approximately 21 years, from about 1993 until 2014. During such time, she had sole responsibility for the practice’s day-to-day finances. She was fired in 2014 after her fraud was discovered.
The two dentists that formed the practice authorized the creation of rubber stamps bearing their signatures to pay for legitimate expenses. However, the dentists always required Harris to obtain authorization before using the rubber stamps on a check to pay a bill. At no time did the dentists authorize Harris to create checks and sue their rubber signature stamps to pay for her personal expenses without their knowledge.
Beginning no later than July 2005, and continuing through about May 2014, Harris devised and executed a scheme to defraud the dentists and their practice. She used the dentists rubber signature stamps without their authorization to create forged checks drawn on the practice’s bank account. By means of these forged checks, Harris caused the practice’s bank to make electronic funds transfers by wire directly into her bank account or into the accounts of their parties, including credit card companies, o pay for personal expenses that she or her dependents had incurred. It was also part of Harris’s scheme ti maintain and use various credit card accounts in the name of the dental practice to pay for personal expenses without the authorization of the dentists. From time to time, Harris attempted to disguise the illegitimate payments by causing checks to be drawn close in time and in amounts identical to the legitimate rent expenses of the LLC.
Harris admitted that, in May 2012, she forged a check bearing the signatures of the dentists to pay for a $4,000 white plastic fence at her home. In total, Harris admitted to stealing at least $474,915.54 from the dentists and their practice. Her actions caused the dentists such substantial financial hardship that they needed to take out multiple lines of credit at local financial institutions to keep their dental practice in business. Harris has agreed to make full restitution to her victims, as well as forfeit and abandon the proceeds of her crime.