News and Press Releases

Dental Insurance Claims Processor Sentenced To Prison For Embezzlement & Fraud

December 18, 2006

Las Vegas, Nev. – An insurance claims processor has been sentenced to over three years in federal prison for embezzling about $100,000 from her former employer, Nevada Pacific Dental, Inc., announced Daniel G. Bogden, United States Attorney for the District of Nevada.

Nicole Yvette Van Trease, age 37, of Las Vegas, was sentenced on Friday, December 15, 2006, by U.S. District Judge Roger L. Hunt to 3.5 years in prison, 3 years of supervised release, and ordered to pay $100,755 in restitution. Van Trease was convicted by a jury on September 27, 2006, of one count of conspiracy to commit health care theft and bank fraud, one count of health care theft, five counts of bank fraud, and six counts of money laundering.

Van Trease and co-defendant Antoinette Michelle Muhammad were originally charged with the offenses in February 2005. Muhammad pleaded guilty to the conspiracy charge and was sentenced to three years probation and ordered to pay $9,740 in restitution. Another co-defendant, Jerome Goodlow, Jr., pleaded guilty to health care theft charges, and was sentenced to four years probation, four months home confinement, and ordered to pay $91,015 in restitution.

Nevada Pacific Dental, Inc., ("NPD"), was a dental insurance service provider located in Las Vegas. Van Trease was employed by NPD as a claims processor. From about January 19, 2000, to December 9, 2002, Van Trease embezzled approximately $102,705 from NPD by creating forged checks drawn on NPD's bank account and causing them to be cashed.

Van Trease was solely responsible for managing the printing and mailing of all dental insurance payments for NPD. Van Trease created or caused the creation of at least 31 forged checks by entering false claims information into NPD's computer system to make it appear as if the claims checks were supported by legitimate insurance claims for dental services. The forged checks were made payable to actual dental service providers or insurance plan members who contracted with NPD.

Co-defendant Jerome Goodlow was employed at WestStar Credit Union as a loan officer. Van Trease provided Goodlow with at least 29 of the forged checks. Goodlow cashed some of the forged checks at Boulder Station Casino and provided a portion of the monies to Van Trease. Goodlow also deposited forged checks into his own WestStar Credit Union account and into the credit union accounts of unknowing third parties. Co-defendant Antoinette Muhammed deposited two forged checks that she had received from Van Trease into her WestStar Credit Union account. The checks totaled about $10,000.

The case was investigated by the FBI, and prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Thomas S. Dougherty.

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