Sept 2013 – MOREHEAD CITY, CARTERET COUNTY – A Carteret County woman has been been arrested for allegedly embezzling more than $100,000 dollars from a doctor’s office.
According to investigators, Michelle Branche, 45, of Newport, turned herself in to police at about 2:15 p.m. Thursday. She is accused of embezzling $116,000 from Sea Breeze Family Practice on Bridges Street in Morehead City.
Lt. Kelly Guthrie of Morehead City Police said Branche had worked at the practice for 18 years. Branche took over bookkeeping at the office in January 2010, investigators said. But in July 2013, staff members noticed discrepancies.
“They had their accountant come in, and after the accountant went through their books, they called us,” Lt. Guthrie said.
A couple of days after Sea Breeze Family Practice filed the police report, the business gave Branche the opportunity to resign, and she did, said Lt. Guthrie. It then took months to investigate what happened.
“We had to go through all the paperwork, all the deposits that were made for about three years,” Lt. Guthrie said.
Branche allegedly used the money she stole to pay for her own health and dental insurance, police said. Branche has been charged with embezzlement and obtaining property by false pretense. Her bond was set at $50,000. More charges are possible, investigators said.