Thursday, April 27, 2000

Veterinary worker accused of stealing

By Sheila McLaughlin
The Cincinnati Enquirer

        LEBANON — When clients at the Custis Veterinary Hospital paid cash for pet products and veterinary care, employee Denise Thornton pocketed much of the money, authorities said Wednesday.

        But Ms. Thornton, 32, of Middletown, denied she stole more than $100,000 from the Lebanon clinic from 1994 until March 1998, or forged records to cover up the alleged theft.

        Standing before the judge with her brother, Kevin Thornton, the county's public defender, Ms. Thornton entered pleas of not guilty to felony charges of aggravated theft and tampering with records.

        Mr. Thornton is representing his sister in his pri vate law practice.

        Judge Neal Bronson of Warren County Common Pleas Court allowed Ms. Thornton to remain out of jail on her promise to return to court.

        A co-worker tipped off the veterinarian to the alleged thefts at the same time the clinic's accountants were questioning a “significant drop in business revenues,” assistant prosecutor Keith Anderson said.

        Veterinarian David Custis reported his suspicions to the prosecutor's office in recent weeks.

        Mr. Anderson said much of the stolen money involved the sale of products to pet owners.

        “People come in and pay cash. That's how this usually happens. They can't trace it,” he said.


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