A Joplin woman was arraigned this week on a charge that she stole more than $9,000 from a dental office.
Andrea L. Nikodim, 33, entered a plea of not guilty Wednesday at her arraignment in Jasper County Circuit Court on a count of felony stealing.
Court records show the charge was filed and a court summons sent to Nikodim on April 9 after an investigation by Joplin police. She has another court hearing on the matter scheduled for Aug. 11.
A probable-cause affidavit states that Joplin police were called Feb. 19 to Joplin Periodontics and Implant Dentistry in the 400 block of South Pearl Avenue regarding a forgery and theft complaint.
Dr. Humaira Habib spoke with the responding officer and provided him with photocopies of nine checks from her dental practice made out to her former office manager, Andrea Slater, who now goes by Andrea Nikodim, according to the affidavit. The checks were written on various dates between March 2019 and March 2020 and were for varying amounts ranging from $502 to $2,500. They added up to $9,121.05.
Habib told the officer that she had confronted Slater in March 2020 after a training trip she had taken to Arizona about a check she had written herself for $502 using a signature stamp bearing Habib’s name.
The “dentist signature stamp” is considered by many to be a relic of the past, and almost every dental practice management consultant I’ve spoken with recommends that they are not used.Notwithstanding this, some offices still use a signature stamp for insurance verification purposes, which may also be used to forge the dentist signature on checks and other documents, such as credit card or bank applications.
If you use a signature stamp in your practice, here are some suggestions on the design and use of the signature stamp.
Download your free copy here: Signature Stamp Design and Use Guide– Bill Hiltz
Habib told the officer that the training fees and trip expenses were to be paid by her office, but Slater could not recall what the additional check covered and promised to pay Habib back.
The affidavit states that she never paid the money back, which led to Habib deciding to dig deeper into office expenditures and her discovery of nine checks she believed were forged by Slater using her signature stamp.
The affidavit states that the defendant, who in the meantime had gone to work for a Joplin chiropractor, became defensive and began calling Habib a liar when confronted about the checks by the officer.
She was arrested in February. But the charge was not filed and the summons sent until April.