UPDATE: Vancouver woman arrested for allegedly embezzling $41,000 from dental clinic

By Emily Gillespie, Columbian breaking news reporter

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A former employee at a Vancouver nonprofit that offers dental services for low-income patients was arrested for allegedly embezzling more than $41,000 from the clinic.

Charlotte Allen-Dinsdale, 36, of Vancouver appeared in Clark County Superior Court on Monday morning and faces a charge of first-degree theft at her Feb. 19 arraignment.

Allen-Dinsdale was employed as a receptionist at the New Day Community Dental Clinic, 2101 S.E. Tech Center Drive, where she was in charge of scheduling appointments, collecting payments and insurance billing, according to a probable cause affidavit, a court document that details legal grounds for an arrest.

Though the nonprofit was incorporated in 2009, the clinic didn’t open its doors until 2011.

Board president Sharif Burdzik said that Allen-Dinsdale was “there in the beginning,” helping the nonprofit organize its clinic before it started to see patients.

The nonprofit’s mission is to provide high-quality, low-cost dental services to patients in southwest Washington. Services include cleanings, exams, dentures, fluoride treatments and sealants for all ages.

The clinic’s operations are funded through its sliding scale fees, which are determined by patient income.

‘Not crippling’

“(The loss) is a significant amount, but percentage-wise of operating income, it was not crippling,” Burdzik said. “We’re still on strong financial footing.”

Another receptionist discovered discrepancies between the clinic’s income and deposits and found evidence that Allen-Dinsdale had been deleting appointments and payments from the computer, according to the affidavit.

Independent accountant Tiffany Couch conducted an audit investigation, discovering that the clinic suffered a loss of more than $41,000 between March 2011 and Feb. 1, 2012, the court documents state. About $35,497 was attributed to missing cash payments and another $6,154 stemmed from write-offs of 16 visits by members of Allen-Dinsdale’s family, according to court records.

When Couch asked her about the financial records, Allen-Dinsdale said she knew money was missing and claimed that she put her own money into the clinic to make up for the losses, the document states. She admitted to deleting patient information so nobody knew the money was missing, but denied any wrongdoing, the affidavit states.

The clinic notified the Vancouver Police Department on Sept. 4, and a five-month investigation ended when Allen-Dinsdale was arrested on Friday.

Police are asking that anyone with information relevant to the investigation call Det. Barbara Knoeppel at 360-487-7436.

To prevent future thefts, Burdzik said that the clinic has since added more internal controls, including more frequent reviews.

“We continue to move onwards and upwards,” Burdzik said. “The mission of helping those with dental needs continues to drive the morale at the clinic.”

Emily Gillespie: 360-735-4522; http://twitter.com/col_cops; emily.gillespie@columbian.com.