UPDATED: 3:10 p.m.
CLARKS SUMMIT — An office manager at the Abington Center for Cosmetic and Family Dentistry was arraigned on theft charges Dec. 9 by Senior Magistrate John D. Whitesell, Chinchilla, according to borough Police Chief Christopher Yarns.
According to the criminal complaint, Leah Marie Price, 41, of Dickson City, is charged with using a company credit card, owned by Charles W. Dennis, DMD, to pay off $26,925.33 worth of personal credit card bills. Price was taken to the Lackawanna County Jail, with bail set at $25,000.
According to Dennis, Price was employed at the office for about one-and-a-half years before the incident unravelled and she was fired.
“I feel violated,” said the dentist. “It was a valued employee that I’ve trusted with, obviously, my personal and my office finances, and that I helped out many times personally to help her better herself, being a single mother. And her working literally an arm’s length away from me and steeling from me, after I paid her very well.”
The affidavit states Yarns and Patrolman Edward Orzalek met with Dennis, his accountant Paul J. Cobb and his attorney Jason Mattioli at his office at 116 N. State St. on Friday, Dec. 4 to review findings of the accountant’s investigation into a credit card.
“We were informed that sometime in September of this year, Dennis’ office manager/employee (the defendant) spoke to him about opening up a credit card for the business,” reads the affidavit. “He states she wanted to open one that had ‘miles reward,’ and she helped him open an American Express Gold Business account. He stated she filled out the paperwork and then had him sign the contract and sent it back. At that time without his knowledge, the suspect Price opened a second charge card on the account under her name.”
According to the affidavit, Dennis later received a call from the credit card company regarding the deactivation of the card due to “flags.” When he confronted Price, she allegedly told him she used the card for numerous personal items on “accident” and was also using it to pay off other cards. She then agreed to pay Dennis $7,000 in lieu of the charges being pressed.
Dennis then decided to have his accountant go over the statements. During his review, Cobb discovered the $26,925.33 worth of payments to various other cards not owned by the business.
Dennis said he also learned during the process that Price has a criminal record, including charges of check forgery while working as an office manager at Linwood Nursing and Rehabilitation Center in Scranton. He said he regrets his failure to properly research the former employee’s history before hiring her.
According to a Lackawanna County Court docket, Price was charged by Magisterial District Judge Joanne Price Corbett in September 2011 with 29 counts of forgery.
“Had I done a Google search, or checked on her, I think this could have been averted,” Dennis said.
Reach Elizabeth Baumeister at 570-704-3943 or on Twitter @AbingtonJournal.