NOV 2016 • COLDWATER — Stephanie Wilkinson, 42, of Coldwater Township, will serve a year in the Branch County Jail for embezzlement of $17,000 from the Smile Avenue Family and Cosmetic Dentistry.
Branch County District Court Judge Brent Weigle did authorize work release so she could make the agreed upon restitution. He warned her the restitution would be under a separate order, so if she fails to pay, it cannot be discharged in bankruptcy and could result in her serving one day for each $10 she fails to repay.
The judge told Wilkinson that if defense attorney Brendan Sanger had not negotiated a misdemeanor plea bargain, “You were facing prison for this conduct.”
“It is clear to me you tried to shift blame to the victim,” Judge Weigle told her.
Records showed Wilkinson took cash payments from patients then manipulated insurance records, patient records and bank deposits to hide the theft.
The judge told Wilkinson he did not believe her, and she lied when she could not remember a previous misdemeanor conviction and sentence for theft.
Practice owner Dr. Amanda Denomme-Stough told the judge that she had considered Wilkinson a “close friend” who she promoted to office manager and paid well.
“This is what she did to me,” she said. “It has had a devastating impact on the business, her family and even her children.”
“This type crime deconstructs morals and values of our community,” the dentist added.
The doctor had loaned Wilkinson $5,000, only to have her discharge the debt in bankruptcy. The crime also had an impact on the doctor’s health.
Wilkinson did not comment at all during the Monday morning sentencing. Sanger said she had gone to work at Country Junction Antiques and Allen Antique Mall since she was fired at the dental practice.
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