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UPDATE: Suspects Sentenced for Embezzling from HealthNet

By: WSAZ News Staff Email
By: WSAZ News Staff Email

UPDATE 12/6/12 @ 2:20 p.m.
CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- The woman who stole $57,000 from HealthNet is headed to prison.

Meredith Collier was sentenced to one to three years in prison. Judge Carrie Webster suspended the sentence 30 days in order for Collier to make new living arrangements for her children.

Back in February, Collier was arrested and charged with embezzling more that $50,000 over the span of six months while working as the Director of Accounting at HealthNet.

Charleston Police say Collier wrote unauthorized checks for more than $1,000 for herself, friends and family members. According to Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants, it was an abuse of power.

"Anytime your dealing with checking accounts, inflows and outflows, you're going to leave a paper trail," Plants said. "And anytime money is missing, people will notice. And sooner or later, you're going to get caught."

Meredith's husband, John Collier, was sentenced to six to 12 months in prison, but that sentence was suspended and Collier was put on probation.

"Really there are no winners when you leave here," Judge Carrie Webster said. "Whether you're the victim of the crime or the one who committed the crime."

Tina Vance, a friend who admitted to cashing checks that Collier had written to her, was sentenced to a year in prison. Six months of that sentence was suspended. The imposition of that sentence was suspended 30 days to make living arrangements for her child.

Tina's husband, Mark Vance, also pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor in the case. Mark also admitted to cashing checks written to him by Collier. He received two years probation.

All four must pay restitution in the case. The amount of restitution will be determined after further investigation into how much money each party received.



UPDATE 10/15/12
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- New details about a major embezzlement case involving HealthNet.

Monday, Meredith Collier admitted she stole more than $50,000 from the company over a span of six months while working as the Director of Accounting.

Collier's husband, John, also pleaded guilty to helping her steal the money. And their friends, Tina and Mark Vance admitted to cashing some of the stolen checks.

John and Meredith are set to be sentenced on December 6.



UPDATE 2/16/12 @ 6:15 p.m.
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Meredith Ann Collier didn't have much to say on her way to jail Wednesday night.

Charleston Police walked Collier to the Kanawha County Magistrate's office just hours after charging her with embezzlement. According to a criminal complaint, Collier stole more than $50,000 over the span of six months while working as the Director of Accounting at HealthNet.

"That's a lot of money," Kanawha County Prosecutor Mark Plants said, "but it's important to know, whether it's $1 or $50,000, people need to be held accountable for their actions."

Charleston Police say Collier wrote unauthorized checks for more than $1,000 for herself, friends and family members. According to Plants, it was an abuse of power.

"Anytime your dealing with checking accounts, inflows and outflows, you're going to leave a paper trail," Plants said. "And anytime money is missing, people will notice. And sooner or later, you're going to get caught."

HealthNet President and CEO Clinton Burley says his company is moving forward, and learning from the mistake.

"It certainly is disheartening when there is any sort of suspicion of improprieties," Burley said, "especially in a not-for-profit organization that is committed to critical care transport of folks in West Virginia and surrounding states."

Burley says the company has already taken steps to make sure this type of crime never happens again.

"We have an outside accounting firm that is working on our financial operation," Burley said. "They're taking care of daily activities that we have within the offices. What we will be doing, moving forward, is working alongside them to build in additional measures to make sure there are no recurrences."



ORIGINAL STORY 2/15/12
KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- A Kanawha County woman was arrested Wednesday and charged with embezzling more than $50,000 from HealthNet, the helicopter ambulance service, police say.

Meredith Collier, an accountant for HealthNet, was charged with embezzlement.

Police say she wrote $1,000 checks to herself, husband and friends. She is accused of doing this repeatedly during a six-month period.

Collier was taken to the South Central Regional Jail.


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