Couple charged with defrauding Alaska medical practice of at least $550K

An Alaska couple have been charged with defrauding a medical practice of more than a half million dollars.

A bookkeeper and her husband have been charged with defrauding an Anchorage, Alaska-based medical practice of at least $550,000.

In a 39-count indictment Thursday, Jill Applebury, who also goes by the name Jill Wetzsteon, 52, and her husband Darin Applebury, 52, were charged with bank fraud, wire fraud, fraudulent transactions with an access device and aggravated identity theft, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of Alaska.

From the mid-1990’s until March 2013, Jill Applebury was the independent contractor bookkeeper for the medical practice. The indictment alleged that from at least 2004 until March 22, 2013, she and her husband defrauded that practice.

One scheme involved falsely taking profit-sharing plan contributions. Prosecutors say she falsely told a third-party administrator for the plan that she had become a full-time employee of the medical practice, making her eligible to participate. As an independent contractor, she was not qualified to participate, but received more than $62,000.

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The indictment also alleged the couple used the practice’s business bank account and credit card to pay for family items and a business operated by Darin Applebury. The unauthorized charges included cell phone service for the couple and members of their family, internet service for their home, businesses licenses, car insurance for their personal vehicles and other items.

Physician practices are particularly vulnerable to embezzlement, even by trusted employees. Experts advise practices to have mechanisms in place to check and verify business finances.