Vermont Optometrist Office Manager Pleads Guilty To Taking $360,000


This came across our google alerts –

Photo: Flickr bradleygee's photostream via Odee
  • Vt. office manager pleads guilty to taking $360000 The Republic AP BRATTLEBORO, Vt. — The former office manager of a Vermont optometrist has been sentenced to nearly two years in prison for stealing about $360000 from her boss. Court documents say Linda Belval worked for David Garbutt for nearly 25 years in…
  • Washington woman working for an optometrist in the borough stole about $2,000 from the private practice while working there, according to police and court records.

Eye Bogglers

  • According to the U.S. Department of Commerce, employee dishonesty costs American business in excess of $50 billion annually.
  •  U.S. Chamber of Commerce : 75% of all employees steal at least once, 50% will continue to steal.
  • Loss Prevention executives responding to the University of Florida 1998 National Retail Security Survey : 42.7% of annual shrinkage losses to employee theft.
  • According to the FBI, employee theft is the fastest growing crime in the US today
  • The US Chamber of Commerce indicated that 1/3 of all small businesses fail as a result of employee theft.
Photo: Odee,

Since the subject of theft prevention comes up over and over, we thought we would review this very serious subject:

Ways Employees Steal:

1.) Non authorized spiff or cash back program. Technically speaking unless a spiff program is authorized by the owner/manager, the spiff is considered theft.

2.) Perks such as personal frames. Employee orders frame, takes frame /lens and does not pay for it.

3.) Cash sales- Repairs or sales, where only cash is involved. Employee either takes cash completely or rings up different amount and pockets the change. No transaction is recorded.

4.) Refunds- Employee rings up refund and takes cash. This can happen various ways- Employee with cohort (patient) can give refund for ‘defective’ frame sale, they may split the refund.

5.) Over-ordering for ‘refund’ or extra inventory. Employee orders either gets cash back refund or extra inventory, which is then resold though places like ebay or Amazon. This can also apply to accessories and even contact lenses.

6.) Credit Card Fraud- This is a common theft problem in general. Employee may sign up for a Credit Card in office name, using their home address. Continues to charge on office credit card. Thousands of dollars may be spent before you even know about it.

7.) Inventory theft- pretty easy to ‘lift’ one or two items every month off the inventory.

8.) Under the table sales- Employee with cohort, may make under the table sales.. cash only.

9.) Office supply theft- keep ordering pens, paper, paperclips and more.. that is still employee theft.

10.) Check forgeries or miscellaneous expenses that have no documentation

11.) Over-repayment of ‘expenses’

12.) Faking on the job injuries.

13.) Abuse of gift cards

What You Can Do

  1. Hire right and prescreen your candidates throughly. Do a criminal screening, call references
  2. Have a written theft policy and address everything from office supplies to eyewear. Personal frame policies for themselves, family and friends. Speak about employee theft at staff meetings.
  3. Uniform policies- Treat every employee on equal standards, including family and friends. Letting some employees get away with little stuff, breeds discontent, retaliation and theft.
  4. Adopt a zero tolerance for theft. Document and fire immediately. Have employee sign off a statement releasing the employer from all liability.
  5. Double check invoices, in the case of eyewear, accessories and contact lens, do a monthly or quarterly inventory. They must match up.
  6. Control the checkbook- Put in place a systems of checks and balances. Checkbooks should not be left out, be a co-signer on all checks, limit the number of people who can write a check. Keep smaller amounts of cash on hand. Review monthly bank statements and credit cards.
  7. Install locks and or put in cameras if you think you have a theft problem.
  8. When checking in merchandise, have 2 people check in. System of checks and balances.
  9. Be a role model, if you steal, your employees will steal.. That towel you took from a hotel is technically considered theft..
  10. Take a pro-active approach- do not pass go and wait until it happens to you.

Proving Theft

  • Investigate throughly- You cannot delegate this, accusing someone can lead to a lawsuit.
  • Start with financial documents, where is the missing links? Check times employee were working to missing products or funds. Who had access? Who turned in the receipts? Who wrote the check? What patient?
  • Document, document and document some more.
  • If unsure consult with your attorney and accountant.

References and Resources



Aspire MidPage June 19