A 55-year-old Rockland woman will soon begin a year-long federal prison term after being sentenced for stealing more than $64,000 from the doctor’s office she managed for nearly two decades.

Dr. Robert Rosenberg told the court that his former employee had ingratiated herself into his family so that she could gain their trust and then lied to him about every aspect of her character and lied to people about him.

Sandra Wallace was sentenced May 27 in U.S. District Court in Portland by Judge George Singal to 12 months and one day in prison for health care fraud.

Wallace will remain free on bail until June 22 when she will report to the U.S. Department of Corrections, at which time it will assign her to a federal facility.

Once Wallace is released, she will be on supervised release for three years. Part of her sentence is that she pay restitution of $64,193. That is the amount of money that the U.S. Attorney’s Office could prove that she embezzled while working as office manager for Dr. Rosenberg’s orthodontic practice in Rockland.

Rosenberg said, however, that he believes Wallace stole more than $120,000 from him, beginning as early as 2000.

Wallace was originally charged by federal prosecutors in September. She waived her right to have the case presented before a grand jury and instead pleaded guilty for health care fraud from 2006 through 2010.

According to documents filed in court by the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Wallace admitted to writing checks to herself from Dr. Rosenberg’s account and forging his signature. She then created a false set of records for the doctor that indicated that the money was going to vendors.

Wallace had worked as Dr. Rosenberg’s office manager since 1993. He fired her when he uncovered her actions.

Wallace had been on a government non-employ list for a prior theft from a nursing home, Rosenberg told the court in a victim impact statement. The doctor said he did not receive the list because the office manager receives the mail and forged his signature and returned it to the state, acknowledging receipt. Rosenberg said Wallace later admitted to him that she had embezzled from the nursing home but he kept her on because she had been a reasonably good employee. The doctor’s statement to the court noted that Wallace told him she had taken the money from the nursing home because she had recently gotten divorced and was not receiving any support.

The doctor said over the next 12 years, he would receive calls from vendors saying they had not been paid and Wallace would tell him that she had not received the bills.

“There were quite a few irate people in my town who must have had the impression that I did not pay my bills,” he stated.

When Rosenberg learned of unpaid bills, he hired a bookkeeper to try to balance the books but Wallace kept canceling appointments with the bookkeeper. The bookkeeper eventually determined that Wallace had been stealing from the doctor.

The maximum sentence for health care fraud is 10 years.

“As far as I know, up to this time, Ms. Wallace has never admitted to the full scope of her theft and fraud, regarding when it began and the total damages,” Rosenberg stated in his victim impact statement. “She never acknowledged it to me at all. This is the second instance in our small town, in which she has embezzled from her employer. She is a career criminal. Due to the nature of the crime and the serial nature of it, I strongly feel that she should receive the maximum penalty that sentencing guidelines allow.”

Assistant U.S. Attorney David Joyce prosecuted the case. Attorney J. Hilary Billings of the federal defender’s office represented Wallace.