Embezzlement Case Shocks the Walla Walla Adventist Community
by Monte Sahlin
By AT News Team, May 27, 2014
Dr. Dana G. Thompson taught economics at Walla Walla University (WWU) until last year. He has admitted stealing $819,761 from the dental practice of Dr. Dan Laizure where he has worked part time as business manager since 2000 and will be sentenced July 17 under a plea agreement in the United States Federal Court of the Eastern District of Washington state, according to assistant U.S. attorney Joe Harrington.
Thompson was a WWU faculty member from 1998 to 2013. He earned a master's degree in finance in 1976 from West Virginia University and a doctoral degree in education from Loma Linda University in 1989, according to the university's web site.
"I did it," Thompson told the Union-Bulletin, the daily newspaper in Walla Walla. He has agreed to plead guilty to one count of wire fraud, to serve 18 months in prison and begin to make restitution to Laizure. He has been forced to sell his home and turn over the profits, sign over his retirement benefits while he is in prison and turn over a coin collection worth $13,000, according to court documents. The court will order a further schedule of payments.
In 2008, the newspaper reported last Friday (May 23), Thompson began to write unauthorized checks to himself and pay off debts that he owed from the dental practice accounts that he managed. It was wire fraud, a Federal crime, because the checks were transferred electronically.
In 2009, Laizure had a heart attack, the newspaper stated, and last year decided to bring another dentist in as his partner in preparation for retirement. As part of the preparations for the partnership, an outside accountant was hired to audit the practice. He found that Thompson was being paid about $77,000 a year for work that took about ten hours a week, states the Union-Bulletin report. Laizure was unaware of this arrangement and discovered that his practice was in severe financial condition.
Laizure told the newspaper that he felt betrayed by Thompson. His retirement savings are gone and he has had to refinance his home to keep the dental practice going. "I esteemed him as my friend," he is quoted as saying.
Adventist Today could not find an Adventist spokesperson willing to comment on the case even off the record. Sources have stated that the case has had an emotional impact among the Adventists who live in this small town where there is an Adventist hospital, an Adventist university and several churches.