Dowagiac dental office embezzler jailedPublished 3:49pm Friday, May 17, 2013
CASSOPOLIS — A Dowagiac woman who embezzled nearly $150,000 from the Dowagiac dental office in which she worked will see time behind bars.
Vicki Zachary, 45, was sentenced to 180 days in jail and five years probation on a felony embezzlement charge Friday in Cass County Circuit Court.
Judge Michael Dodge said Zachary admitted to stealing $200 to $300 a day a couple times a week over a period of several years while working as an office manager at the dental office.
Zachary also confessed to using her position to call in fraudulent prescriptions for drugs like Vicodin, and then keeping the drugs for herself.
All told, Zachary embezzled $149,326.
“This defendant was quite literally stealing her victim blind,” said Victor Fitz, prosecutor.
Zachary, who had been working at the dental office for nearly 16 years, told investigators she spent the money on daily living expenses and bills.
She also admitted to having a gambling problem and an addiction to prescription drugs. The investigation found that between August 2007 and December 2012, Zachary gambled away more than $9,000 at Four Winds Casino in New Buffalo.
Dodge said one of the most aggravating features of this type of crime is that it represents hundreds of individual crimes.
“It is a little bit deceiving to say this is your first offense because over the last several years you’ve committed hundreds of criminal offenses,” Dodge said.
Zachary pleaded guilty in April to embezzlement $50,000 to $100,000, and 10 charges of obtaining a controlled substance by fraud.
As a condition of Zachary’s plea agreement, the initial charge of embezzlement over $100,000 was lessened to embezzlement $50,000 to $100,000. She agreed to serve a minimum of six months in jail and repay the stolen money.
Dodge said he would consider work release for Zachary, who receives credit for one day served.
Zachary’s attorney, David Moore, said his client turned to drugs to cope with an abusive relationship.