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OC officer manager arrested for embezzling from dentist's office

June 29, 2011 12:00:00 AM PDT
An office manager is accused of stealing tens of thousands of dollars while working for an Orange County dentist. Investigators say there may be several other embezzlement victims. The woman is accused of spending that money quickly on everything from boats and RVs to vacation trips.

Deborah Kessler is facing serious charges for what the 45-year-old allegedly did while working as the office manager for Dr. Todd Engel, a Ladera Ranch dentist.

"As insurance reimbursements would come into the dentist's office, she would forge the dentist's name and make the checks payable to herself," said Orange County Sheriff's Dept. Spokesman Jim Amormino.

Investigators suspect Kessler deposited more than $100,000 into her account over three years. The money allegedly helped her buy an RV and a boat. She also took extravagant trips.

The doctor was unaware of the missing money at the time.

"I think she got away with it so long because she was close personal friends with the dentist and his wife," said Amormino.

Investigators say Kessler continued in her job after the doctor sold his business to another dentist, Dr. John Taylor, but he noticed something wasn't right.

"They looked at their books and discovered a lot of theft of checks," said Amormino.

The Orange County Sheriff's Dept. started investigating in May, uncovering more about Kessler.

"She does have a prior arrest for exactly the same thing, for forgery and stealing checks from a dentist's office," said Amormino.

"I'm glad they put a stop to her but it should be a lesson for other doctors and dentists to keep an eye on their business," said Ladera Ranch resident Kimmberleigh Kelsey.

Authorities are concerned there may be other potential victims. Kessler has also worked for dentists in Pomona and Irvine, where she stopped showing up for work after three weeks.

Authorities allege when they arrested Kessler at her home in Canyon Lake, she was on the phone trying to get a job at another dentist's office in San Clemente.

If you have more information for investigators, call the Orange County Sheriff's Dept. at (866) TIP-OCSD.

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