A once-trusted employee who worked for a Gainesville doctor for more than 25 years stands accused of embezzling more than half a million dollars from his office.
Dianne J. Ray, 50, was indicted by a Hall County grand jury this week on 27 felony counts of theft by deception and two felony counts of theft by taking.
Ray was hired by Dr. Steve Moore as an office manager for Gastroenterology Associates of Gainesville when he started the business in July 1981, according to court documents in a separate civil suit brought against her.
Ray is accused of stealing $548,000 from the office on Lanier Park Drive, which has seven doctors and more than 20 employees. She is also charged with thefts from a related business, Gainesville Endoscopy Center, a surgical outpatient facility.
The thefts were discovered in August 2007 when an employee noticed that very little cash was being deposited into the office’s bank account. Ray was fired the following month. The office filed suit against Ray and her husband in December.
The office alleged in its lawsuit that between 1998 and July 2007, Ray wrote checks to herself, which doctors signed under the pretense that they were for legitimate vendors, took cash that was meant to be deposited into the office account and made unauthorized purchases on business credit cards.
More than a dozen checks were in excess of $9,000, and three were for more than $12,000, according to the indictment.
Ray put the checks down for legitimate business purposes on the company’s ledger, according to the lawsuit. She wrote checks to fictitious vendors and obtained free phone service, free luggage and $3,500 in gift cards from an AT&T account paid for with unauthorized company funds, the lawsuit claims.
Ray is also accused of concealing her actions by arranging for lines of credit at a local bank when the office accounts were low on funds.
The office estimates in its lawsuit that it lost $800,000 when Ray failed to file claims with insurance companies.
The plaintiffs noted that Ray and her husband’s personal assets include two leased Lexus cars and a diamond ring valued at $25,000. In a 2005 Times profile of Ray, she noted that she enjoyed shopping in Pigeon Forge, Tenn., and was planning on going on an ocean cruise.
Reached Tuesday, Moore declined to comment on the indictment of his former longtime employee, citing the ongoing civil litigation. Hall County District Attorney Lee Darragh also declined comment.
As of Tuesday, Ray had not been arrested. Hall County Sheriff’s Maj. Jeff Strickland said she was expected to surrender after an arrest order had been signed.
Ray’s lawyer, former Georgia Attorney General Mike Bowers, said arrangements likely would be made soon for her to be booked at the Hall County Jail.
"We will defend her vigorously," Bowers said.
Ray’s was one of two large-scale theft cases presented to the grand jury Monday.
In a separate, unrelated case, the grand jury returned a 145-count indictment against a Cleveland woman, including 121 counts of forgery. Tracy Cassandra Grier, 46, is accused of writing unauthorized checks totaling more than $35,000 on the account of Fred Defoor Used Cars in Clermont.
Grier is also charged with financial transaction card for allegedly using Defoor’s Discover card to make unauthorized purchases from clothing and sporting goods stores, a flower shop, a toy store, mail order companies and an electronics store.