The former practice manager of the Newtown Veterinary Hospital is facing charges for allegedly taking more than $350,000 from the business over the course of her 10 years of employment with the company.
Trisha Lynn McLaughlin, 36, of Warminster is facing first degree felony charges for the theft, which police say was carried out by forging checks, abusing company credit cards and overpaying herself on payroll.
McLaughlin worked at the local veterinary hospital from 2001 to 2011 after she was fired for misappropriation of funds, police said.
Newtown Township detectives began investigating last year after the owner of the Newtown Veterinary Hospital told police that he believed his former employee had embezzled funds. According to police, McLaughlin was hired in 2001 as a veterinary technician and in 2006 was promoted to practice manager.
In her role as practice manager, McLaughlin was directly responsible for accounts payable, payroll and budget.
Police said she had control of the veterinary hospital’s bank accounts and credit card accounts.
The business owner told police that she would write checks out to herself and cash them. In addition, she would overpay herself in payroll and would use the company charge card. She opened a PayPal account without authorization from the business owner and made personal purchases.
McLaughlin used the PayPal account to make more than $16,000 in personal purchases, including shoes, gym membership fees, clothes and home heating fuel. She used bank accounts to make personal payments to PECO, Verizon and car payments, police said.
She also made unauthorized personal purchases on the company’s accounts at BJ's Wholesale Club, Sam's Club, and Costco. The purchase history reports from the wholesale clubs McLaughlin purchased groceries, electronics, baby supplies, clothing and gift cards.
Police said McLaughlin also purchased gift certificates that were to be used as gifts for other employees but never gave them to the appropriate people. She also withdrew funds from the hospital owner’s personal money market account.
While conducting the year-long investigation, township detectives discovered that McLaughlin destroyed many of the vet hospital’s financial records.
The NVH owner said he had discussed the thefts with McLaughlin and she denied any wrongdoing, police said. Rather, police said, she considered herself to be borrowing money with the intention of paying it back.
She “pleaded with the owner not to go to the authorities or deny her unemployment benefits,” police said in a press release.
Based on the itemized purchase history reports, detectives determined that Trisha McLaughlin made $50,601 in unauthorized purchases from wholesale clubs, for goods and services that did not benefit the Newtown Veterinary Hospital, police said.
Additional illegal activities committed by McLaughlin include; inflating the pay rates for herself, her husband and other select employees, not withholding payroll deductions for medical and dental benefits for herself and her husband along with numerous other deductions that were not withheld from the paychecks, police said.
Review of accounts also uncovered that Trisha McLaughlin’s mismanagement of the business daycare center caused a loss of revenue discrepancies that totaled more than $85,000, police said. Numerous other fraudulent financial activities that led back to McLaughlin resulted in a total loss of $355,790 suffered by NVH, police said.
McLaughlin has been charged with Dealing in Proceeds of Unlawful Activities, Second degree felony Forgery – Unauthorized Act in Writing and Third degree felonies of Theft by Unlawful Taking or Disposition and Receiving Stolen Property.
She was processed at Northampton Township Police Headquarters and was arraigned via video by Judge Nasshorn. She was released ROR on $250,000 bail.