April 20, 2022 - 2:18 pm
Updated April 20, 2022 - 3:27 pm
A woman charged with embezzling hundreds of thousands of dollars from a Las Vegas Valley dental office has been accused of ripping off another Las Vegas dentist while her criminal case was still pending, according to police and court records.
Danielle Powers, 42, of Las Vegas, was initially arrested in February 2020 stemming from the theft of more than $249,000 from Desert Hills Dental, 5475 S. Fort Apache Road, according to police and court records. Dentist Deborha Staten and her husband, John Staten, told a grand jury the couple hired Powers as an office manager in 2014 because she was experienced in the dental field.
She soon became a trusted employee.
“Danielle was actually my right hand as far as everything else was concerned because I just wanted to be a great dentist and focus clinically on what I needed to do with my back office team, so Danielle was in charge of my front office,” Deborha Staten told the grand jury. “Basically everything. Treatment planning, accounts receivable, everything but accounts payable because I had my husband for that.”
Things appeared to be going smoothly with Powers, the Statens said, until a co-worker reported to them that in 2019, she saw Powers engage in suspicious activity with a customer.
“She was sitting in the office, and there was a man in there with her that I didn’t recognize,” co-worker Marleny Delgado told the grand jury. “And she was counting a large stack of money, of cash.”
Delgado later checked the patient’s account and learned there had been no record of a large cash deposit applied to the customer’s account balance. Delgado informed the Statens of the suspicious incident, prompting them to review video surveillance from the office. The video, authorities said, showed Powers stashing the cash received from the customer in the office and leaving for the day, then returning to the office after-hours and taking the cash.
“We just were in shock,” John Staten told the grand jury. “I mean, it was literally shock.”
A bigger shock was still ahead. The couple told the grand jury they hired a forensic auditor who uncovered a complex embezzlement scheme that caused a $249,216 loss to the dental office. Part of the scheme, investigators said, involved hiding portions of a computerized spreadsheet that listed business transactions for the office.
Powers was initially charged with felony theft and embezzlement in February 2020 but was released from custody on her own recognizance, and court proceedings were repeatedly delayed, because of the COVID-19 pandemic. She was indicted in October 2020 on 10 felony theft and embezzlement counts and entered a not guilty plea to the charges.
She was then arrested again in October 2021 by Las Vegas police on accusations she had embezzled from Smile Vegas Dental, 8525 Blue Diamond Road. Dentist Naweed Najand told a grand jury in March of this year that he hired Powers to work as an office manager at the business.
He said he soon noticed that a string of customers told him they had paid cash for services but that their accounts did not reflect those payments. He said video surveillance from the office showed Powers hiding cash received from a patient under a clipboard, according to his testimony to the grand jury.
“Our process is you receive the money, you deposit the money into the safe,” Najand told the grand jury. “And so when I saw that I instantly knew something was up.”
Authorities alleged Powers stole more than $10,000 from the Smile Vegas Dental office. Powers was indicted on March 24 on a felony theft charge in the theft from Smile Vegas Dental. She is now in custody at the Clark County Detention Center.
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