Lynnwood woman arrested on suspicion of defrauding Edmonds dentist

Following a year-long investigation, Edmonds police arrested the office manager for an Edmonds dentist on first-degree theft and first-degree identity theft. The suspect was arrested near her Lynnwood home Nov. 2 and booked into the Snohomish County Jail, Edmonds police spokesperson Sgt. Josh McClure said.

The investigation began in September 2022 when the dentistry practice owner filed a report with Edmonds Police Sgt. Nicholas Haughian. The victim stated that she suspected that an employee — someone she had known for nearly 30 years — had been defrauding the business in her role as office manager.

The victim had been alerted to suspicious activity as far back as 2017, but addressed it with the employee and considered the situation resolved. In September 2022, the victim hired a consultant to perform a business audit. The audit results generated suspicious that the office manager had opened multiple accounts in the name of the business or the business owner and made purchases of goods or services for her gain. The suspect was terminated.

Edmonds Police Detective Julie Govantes was assigned to the case. She obtained multiple search warrants and worked with banks, credit card companies and the victim to reconcile purchases. Over $250,000 worth of charges were in question. Detective Govantes was able to establish evidence the suspect had defrauded the business and victim of over $130,000, including purchases for jewelry, shoes, clothes, handbags, cosmetic services and other personal items.

“There was evidence to support that the suspect took advantage of the trust the victim had in her and used it to steal from the company,” McClure said. “During the investigation, Detective Govantes also discovered the suspect had a previous arrest and conviction from 2014 for defrauding another dentist’s office. She was convicted of first-degree theft in that case. During the investigation, two other dentists’ offices where the suspect had worked were contacted. Both of those businesses had fired the suspect for theft but did not call the police after she agreed to pay them back.

Govantes encouraged businesses to maintain diligent financial habits. “Small businesses should routinely use an outside auditor to review their accounts and business practices,” she said. “Owners should make sure there is regular communication and oversight of those who are responsible for the company’s finances. Enabling fraud alerts and investigating those notifications is crucial.”

The suspect has since been released from jail pending official charges. Govantes will continue working with the Snohomish County Prosecutor’s Office as they review the case, McClure said.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Real first and last names — as well as city of residence — are required for all commenters.
This is so we can verify your identity before approving your comment.