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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Northern District of Iowa

Tuesday, September 13, 2016

Mason City Dental Office Manager Pleads Guilty to Stealing Nearly $500,000 from Two Dentists

An office manager of a small dental practice in Mason City, Iowa who stole nearly $500,000 from her employer over the course of almost a decade pled guilty today in federal court in Cedar Rapids.

Pamela Harris f/k/a “Pamela Mahoney,” 58, from Mason City, Iowa, was convicted of Wire Fraud.  In a plea agreement, Harris admitted she was a trusted employee of the dental practice for approximately 21 years, from about 1993 until 2014.  During such time, she had sole responsibility for the practice’s day-to-day finances.  She was fired in 2014 after her fraud was discovered.

The two dentists that formed the practice authorized the creation of rubber stamps bearing their signatures to pay for legitimate expenses.  However, the dentists always required Harris to obtain authorization before using the rubber stamps on a check to pay a bill.  At no time did the dentists authorize Harris to create checks and use their rubber signature stamps to pay for her personal expenses without their knowledge.

Beginning no later than July 2005, and continuing through about May 2014, Harris devised and executed a scheme to defraud the dentists and their practice.  She used the dentists’ rubber signature stamps without their authorization to create forged checks drawn on the practice’s bank account.  By means of these forged checks, Harris caused the practice’s bank to make electronic funds transfers by wire directly into her bank account or into the accounts of third parties, including credit card companies, to pay for personal expenses that she or her dependents had incurred.  It was also part of Harris’s scheme to maintain and use various credit card accounts in the name of the dental practice to pay for personal expenses without the authorization of the dentists.  From time to time, Harris attempted to disguise the illegitimate payments by causing checks to be drawn close in time and in amounts identical to the legitimate rent expenses of the LLC.

Harris admitted that, in May 2012, she forged a check bearing the signatures of the dentists to pay for a $4,000 white plastic fence at her home.  In total, Harris admitted to stealing at least $474,915.54 from the dentists and their practice.  Her actions caused the dentists such substantial financial hardship that they needed to take out multiple lines of credit at local financial institutions to keep their dental practice in business.  Harris has agreed to make full restitution to her victims, as well as forfeit and abandon the proceeds of her crime.

Sentencing before United States District Court Chief Judge Linda R. Reade will be set after a presentence report is prepared.  Harris remains free on certain conditions of release pending sentencing.  Harris faces a possible maximum sentence of 20 years’ imprisonment without the possibility of parole, a maximum fine of twice gross gain or gross loss resulting from the offense, or $250,000, whichever is greater, a $100 in special assessment, and not more than three years of supervised release following any imprisonment.

The case is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Tim Vavricek and was investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation and the Mason City Police Department. 

Court file information at 

The case file number is 16-CR-3029-LRR.

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Financial Fraud
Updated September 14, 2016