Theft and forgery charges against a former Neshannock Township doctor’s office manager have been held for court.
Nicole L. Welsh, 34, of 202 E. Fairmont Ave., is charged by Neshannock Township police with four counts of forgery, five counts of theft by deception and three counts of access device fraud by unauthorized use of a credit card.
District Judge David Rishel dismissed five additional counts of identity theft and released her on her own recognizance, following her preliminary hearing.
Welsh, a former office manager for podiatrist Dr. Michael Drespling is accused of using credit cards issued in Drespling’s name to purchase items for her personal use.
Drespling, the only witness called to testify yesterday, said Welsh worked in his office from July, 2006, through August, 2009. As office manager her duties included paying bills associated with his practice and purchasing office supplies, he said.
She had access to five credit cards and lines of credit issued in his name and to his checking account, he said, but she was not authorized to use the cards or checks for her personal use.
The doctor said he learned of the problems in July, 2009, when he applied for a line of credit for air conditioning for his home and was told he could not get a loan because his credit was poor.
Drespling said he met with his accountant who investigated “irregularities” in his accounts. He said these included purchases made by Welsh and checks written for amounts greater than he requested.
“If I asked for $500, she would cash a check for $600,” Drespling said, adding that happened on 17 occasions.
Assistant district attorney Luanne Parkonen said the investigation by Drespling’s accountant and police showed a total of $65,000 to $70,000 in unauthorized credit card use and forged checks.
Any amount over $2,000 constitutes a felony offense, she said.
Defense attorney Larry Keith said a different picture had emerged from the investigation, one that included maxed-out credit cards and large monthly balances carried over on several cards even before Welsh went to work in Drespling’s office.
He asked the doctor if he allowed employees to use his credit card in lieu of overtime payment. That would explain how Welsh had obtained a card on his account with her name on the card, Keith said.
Drespling said he knew nothing about that, was never told that Welsh’s name would be on a card, never authorized her to get a card and didn’t know how she “got on as a user.”
Keith also asked if Drespling’s credit card companies had excused charges after Welsh was arrested.
Drespling said he is still responsible to pay charges and interest on three cards.