Full court transcript of ABC Pediatrics: Practice was ‘almost crippled’ by embezzlement

Pediatrician, nurse practitioner speak about hardships and loss

By Ashley Bunton - abunton@aimmediamidwest.com

The following are statements made on the record during defendant Angela Johnson’s sentencing Monday for the aggravated theft of more than a quarter of a million dollars from ABC Pediatrics in Washington C.H.

At the conclusion of the sentencing hearing, Fayette County Court of Common Pleas Judge Steven Beathard ordered Johnson to serve two years in prison for aggravated theft. According to Fayette County Prosecutor Jess Weade, the quarter of a million dollar theft is the county’s largest known case of embezzlement.

— The following statement was made in court by Ashley Berman, nurse practitioner at ABC Pediatrics:

“I feel compelled to address the court on this matter because the impact of Angela Johnson’s theft is so extensive that I want to ensure the court is aware of the extent to which she caused pain and hardships on ABC Pediatrics and the community it serves.

First, the impact on Dr. Fitton: Not only has Dr. Fitton spent much of the last two years working to ensure the practice stays open, but there is the personal toll this took on her. She is one of the kindest and most empathetic employers I have ever worked for. She considers her staff her family. There were many years her own family went without vacations or Christmas so she could provide for her staff. When Angela stole from her, it was like a member of her own family had betrayed her. Dr. Fitton finds it extremely difficult to place her trust in anyone and it’s made her question whether all of her extra effort is worth it. Sadly, she is now in constant fear that someone will betray her again.

Second, the impact to the rest of the staff, through the lens of my personal experience: I am the sole nurse practitioner at the practice and I have had to increase my hours significantly since Angela’s theft because Dr. Fitton has had to travel outside of the area to work to generate income to keep ABC Pediatrics afloat. I can still hear my four-year-old daughter saying to me one day as I was leaving work, ‘You’re going to work again?’ Unfortunately, my family, including my four-year-old and my 16-month-old, have had to make sacrifices as a result of Angela’s actions. We’ve had less time together during some of the most precious years you have as a parent. We are a small staff and all of us have had to step up to ensure the practice continues running in Dr. Fitton’s absence. The trade-off — spending less time with the people we love — is immeasurable.

Maybe most significantly, there’s the impact to the community: Dr. Fitton is the only pediatrician in Fayette County and since the theft has forced her to leave the area to generate income to keep our practice open, the community has suffered. I have received many comments from patients like, ‘Am I ever going to meet the doctor?’ ‘Does Dr. Fitton see patients anymore?’ And I again have to explain how the practice was almost crippled by Angela’s actions. We see about 100 fewer patients a week when Dr. Fitton is gone. That’s 100 children who cannot receive care, and a loss of revenue for our practice. Not only are the patients in our practice affected, but the pediatric patients that utilize the emergency room as well. Dr. Fitton provides consultation and assistance in the ER when needed and those physicians no longer have access to her expertise when she is traveling.

Every time we think we’ve made it, that we’ve recovered, another obstacle presents itself. The theft Angela committed was discovered about two years ago but the effects are still being felt. I ask that the court consider this immense impact when issuing a sentence.”

— The following statement was made by Dr. Lenora Fitton, pediatrician at ABC Pediatrics:

“Your Honor,

Thank you for letting me speak to you and your courtroom today in regards to the matter of Angela Johnson.

‘Oh, doc is out again?’

‘Do I need to find another pediatrician?’

‘Dr. Fitton is never available anymore.’

‘I know doc is leaving. When is she going to tell us?’

‘What will we do without doc?’

‘Why did that bad person take Dr. Fitton’s money?’ a six-year-old asked.

These are all questions that myself staff and even patients of my practice have had to answer in the past two years as I have been away from my practice. I found it necessary to work for weeks at a time performing locum jobs to save my practice while my nurse practitioner, Ashley Berman, continued to provide pediatric care — in my absence — to the children of Fayette County and surrounding area.

In August 2015, I had the misfortune of identifying an act of embezzlement in my office. The guilty person is Angela Johnson. She was someone I called my friend and cared for her children for nearly 20 years. I provided her gainful employment for nearly 10 years. We attended trips together and I generously supported her family in times of need. That is all in the past. Today the only thing I remember is the last words spoke to me…’Dr. Fitton, why are you doing this to me?’

This is what you have done to me…

The BCI forensic accountant identified losses in excess of $258,000. Non-payment of the 2014 IRS tax bill of greater than $145,000. Accrued IRS penalty charges for nonpayment is more than $42,000. An additional loan taken out in 2015 for a short fall in payroll for $48,000.

Vendor bills that were not being paid at nearly $80,000. Reduction in my salary to pay my staff. One-hundred-ninety-five days away from my family, business and patients for locum jobs in five different practices and hospitals to generate revenue to meet my financial obligations. Lost business as I was away from the practice.

This is of course only the material losses to myself, family and staff. But what did you to me? I have lost precious time away from my children. I missed family firsts: my daughter’s first homecoming and my son’s 21st birthday. I have not been available to my elderly mother who is experiencing health issues in my absence. My personal health has been compromised due to my chronic stress. I most certainly have trust issues when it comes to running my office. I have lost valuable staff in this transition.

Your Honor, as you are aware, I opened ABC Pediatrics of Ohio in May 2003 and have served the children of Fayette County and surrounding area for 14 years. I have developed alliances with Fayette County Memorial Hospital, Head Start, Nationwide Children’s Hospital and Cincinnati Children’s Hospital to provide diverse quality of pediatric care in my community. The success of what ABC Pediatrics of Ohio has done is the result of a hard-working team and dedication. The intentional and knowingly actions of embezzlement for personal gain by Angela Johnson not only stole from me but also the children and families of Fayette County as I was previously available to donate time and resources to help our community.

We are speaking out today as victims and ask Your Honor to consider these losses as you deliberate on the sentencing of Angela Johnson.

So I ask you, Angela Johnson…Why did you do this to us!”

Pediatrician, nurse practitioner speak about hardships and loss

By Ashley Bunton


Reach Ashley by calling her at (740) 313-0355 or by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton

Reach Ashley by calling her at (740) 313-0355 or by searching Twitter.com for @ashbunton