ROCKLAND, Maine — Sandra Wallace baby-sat her boss’s dog. She got to work early and picked up his mail. She stayed late at the orthodontist’s office and never took a vacation.
So imagine Rockland dentist Robert Rosenberg’s surprise when he found out the woman had stolen $64,194 from him over the years she was his office manager. In some ways, it made sense to him because money always had seemed tight.
“It just seemed like there was never enough money to pay the bills. And I’m an orthodontist,” Rosenberg said.
Wallace was sentenced to serve one year and one day in federal prison after she pleaded guilty to health care fraud in U.S. District Court, according to court documents filed Tuesday. Wallace also will have to pay back the $64,194 she stole from Rosenberg’s office.
According to court documents, Rosenberg complained to police last December that Wallace, who had worked for him 1993-2010, had written company checks to herself and forged his signature on them over the course of two years.
“She never took a vacation. I thought that made her a great employee. She was there first thing in the morning. She stayed late at night. It turned out it was because she didn’t want me to find out anything,” Rosenberg said Wednesday.
The affidavit filed by Brian Pellerin, a special agent with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, lists several incidents of thefts since 2008. Wallace had been writing checks to herself but covering her tracks by making it look like the money was paid for office expenses. The detective verified this by getting bank images of the checks.
Rockland police interviewed Wallace, and according to the federal court documents, “Wallace admitted to signing Dr. A’s name to checks she deposited into her own account without Dr. A’s permission or knowledge.”
For the orthodontist, Wallace’s actions have changed the way he runs his three-employee business.
“I used to think it was a luxury for someone else to get your mail, open your mail and put it in a neat pile on your desk. Now I do that myself. Now I get all the bills; I pay the bills,” he said. “The only thing I can say is you have to be in control of everything. Monitor everything. Even then, I think people can steal from you.”
He’s trying not to think about it too much.
“I don’t let it get me down. There’s nothing I can do about it. When it comes down to it, I’m responsible for it.”
Wallace, 55, of Rockland was sentenced for one count of health care fraud Tuesday. The punishment for that crime can be up to 10 years in prison and a $250,000 fine. Wallace must report to prison by June 22.
Calls to Wallace’s attorney were unsuccessful.