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Elk couple accused of fraud

Tue., Jan. 19, 2010

Ex-clinic workers plead not guilty to $1 million allegation

A couple who helped oversee the expansion of a medical clinic in Deer Park now stand accused of a million-dollar financial fraud officials say went undetected for years.

Kelly and Daniel Holm, of Elk, call the allegations ridiculous and say they had verbal contracts entitling them to the money. Kelly Holm, 49, recently pleaded not guilty in Spokane County Superior Court to 10 felonies – five counts of first-degree theft and five counts of second-degree identity theft – in connection with five unauthorized checks police say were stolen from Deer Park Family Care Clinic, where she was the office manager for more than a decade.

She’s accused of cashing the checks for more than $34,000, then adjusting computer records to try to cover it up.

Neither she nor Daniel Holm returned calls seeking comment.

But officials at the Deer Park clinic say that’s only a fraction of what was stolen in a scheme its lawyer said amounts to “criminal profiteering.”

“She was the person in charge of the finances of the company,” said the lawyer, Michael Church. “The clinic alleges that she was able to manipulate things so that it couldn’t be discovered by the physicians.”

The case is described in court documents as “he said, she said” about hefty salaries and raises that were never spelled out in employment contracts. At issue is not the amount of money but whether it was authorized.

The couple’s attorney, Kevin Curtis, said they vehemently deny the allegations and have been cleared of wrongdoing by the state Employment Security Division, though the clinic has appealed. Those investigations are confidential, a division spokeswoman said.

A civil lawsuit filed by Church on behalf of Deer Park Family Care Clinic alleges Kelly Holm gave herself huge unauthorized pay raises and even paid her husband a yearly salary that was never approved by the clinic.

The missing money totals more than $1 million, according to the lawsuit.

The Holms say in court documents that their salaries and raises were approved, and monthly filings were available for review.

Kelly Holm had worked at Deer Park Family Care Clinic as an office manager for more than 10 years when she was fired in January 2009. The clinic grew during those years, and her salary jumped from $37,000 to $120,000, according to court documents.

When physicians formed an LLC (limited liability company) to handle the financing of a new urgent care center, Kelly Holm began making an additional $1,000 per month, according to court documents signed by Holm. When the urgent care center opened in 2007, she began drawing an additional annual salary of $65,000.

Her husband, Dan Holm, began earning a $43,000 annual salary in 2005 for part-time landscaping and maintenance at Deer Park Family Care Center, according to the court filings. Like his wife, he began drawing additional money from the LLC – $1,000 per month. He was hired the next year as project manager for the clinic’s new urgent care center, and for that work was paid nearly $11,000 per month.

The five checks Kelly Holm is accused of stealing came in July 2008 after her access to the hospital’s finances was restricted, according to court documents.

“It would have been a time of increased financial pressure for Ms. Holm, since she and her husband had been receiving unauthorized salaries totaling $400,000, or more, per year until that time,” according to a court documents prepared by Church.

Holm then changed computer records of the checks to indicate they went to hospital vendors, according to court documents.

The hospital fired Holm after a forensic accountant discovered the misappropriated money, Church said.

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