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EMBEZZLEMENT CASE Ex-Forum manager indicted



Published: Fri, June 10, 2005 @ 12:00 a.m.



The defendant used some money to pay off credit cards, the indictment says.

YOUNGSTOWN -- A former Forum Health accounts manager, using a sophisticated scheme and cover-up, embezzled roughly $1.7 million and used it to buy luxury cars and homes, government and hospital officials said.

A federal grand jury in Cleveland returned an indictment this week in U.S. District Court charging Vicky Sites with wire fraud, interstate transportation of stolen property and attempted income tax evasion. Sites, formerly of Newton Falls, now lives in Pawleys Island, S.C., the government said. Her age was not listed.

Forum Health operates hospitals and outpatient health care clinics in the Youngstown/Warren area.

Sites, who worked in the accounts payable department from 1998 to September 2002, had disbursement authority over several Forum Health accounts.

Sites is accused of misappropriating Forum Health care funds by causing checks to be forged and written for her benefit, transferring a large portion of the proceeds to South Carolina. Officials allege she concealed the embezzlement by making false entries in the accounting records at Forum Health.

Sites used the funds to buy "several homes in South Carolina and several luxury Mercedes and Corvette automobiles and to pay off credit card expenses," the indictment states. From June 26, 1998 through Dec. 23, 2002, Sites initiated about 50 unauthorized checks for roughly $1.7 million, the government said.

Putting things right

Henry Seybold, Forum Health senior vice president and chief financial officer, said that in February, during a routine year-end audit, "some questionable financial activities" were identified.

The hospital called on forensic accounting and fraud experts and lawyers to work with hospital staff for additional reviews. In March, unlawful activity was uncovered and federal authorities were alerted, Seybold said.

He noted that "This was a very sophisticated scheme and cover-up. We do believe she worked on her own."

Seybold said that, through restitution or insurance, Forum Health will fully recover its lost investment and not suffer a financial loss.

Forum is working with forensic accounting and fraud experts to monitor the company's system controls and "make necessary changes to insure a similar situation does not happen again," Seybold said.

Sites also is charged with willfully attempting to evade income taxes of nearly $612,000 owed the IRS for 2000, 2001 and 2002 by filing false tax returns that failed to report the income she received through embezzlement, the government said.

The government seeks forfeiture of the homes in South Carolina and the luxury cars along with several accounts Sites held in South Carolina.

The case was investigated by the FBI and IRS. It is being prosecuted by Justin J. Roberts, an assistant U.S. attorney based in Cleveland.




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