A New Stanton woman who previously served as the coordinator of Excela Health Latrobe Hospital’s family residency student program has been charged with stealing more than $75,000 from the program and the associated Andrew Bagby Memorial Scholarship Fund.
Westmoreland County detectives this week charged Suzanne N. Strickler, 37, with 31 counts of theft, 11 counts of forgery and one count of receiving stolen property in connection with a scheme that authorities allege spanned more than a year, according to court documents.
Strickler allegedly forged checks totaling thousands of dollars in scholarships intended for medical residency students and diverted donations to the scholarship fund to her personal accounts between July 2018 and December 2019, according to authorities.
Westmoreland County Detective Jason Napier wrote in court documents that Strickler forged her own name on 11 Bagby scholarship checks for $1,000 each that were intended for medical students who had completed four-week rotations in Excela’s medical residency program and deposited the checks into her personal account.
One of the students attempted to collect the diverted scholarship money, corresponding with Strickler for more than a year before giving up, according to court documents.
Strickler also allegedly took multiple $45 per person donations for tickets to attend the graduation dinner for the hospital’s family residency program in June 2019 and deposited the funds that should have gone to the scholarship program into her own bank account instead.
“Dr. David Wsyzomierski wrote a check for $45 to attend the graduation dinner on June 18, 2019. Dr. Wsyzomierski hand-delivered the check,” to Strickler, Napier wrote.
Wsyzomierski later learned the check had been altered from $45 to $4,500 before being deposited in Strickler’s account, according to court documents. Investigators seized five other copies of checks for between $850 and $2,000 deposited to Strickler’s account that had been forged from Wsyzomierski’s original check, Napier wrote.
Excela officials inquired last year about monthly scholarship payments from the Pennsylvania Academy of Family Physicians that never made it to two students. Strickler allegedly altered a $9,694 check from the organization in January 2019, forging her name on the check and depositing it into her own account.
According to court documents, Napier and Detective Ray Dupilka met last month with Strickler at the office of her attorney, Samir Sarna, in Pittsburgh. Strickler allegedly admitted to the thefts during the meeting.
“Mrs. Strickler advised that, during the period of these thefts, she was having a rough time with finances. Mrs. Strickler indicated that she is willing to make restitution,” Napier wrote in court documents.
Strickler and Sarna did not respond to requests for comment, according to the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review. Excela Health vice president of communications Tom Chakurda told the newspaper “We are cooperating with authorities, but we cannot comment further as it’s an ongoing legal matter.”
Strickler is scheduled to be arraigned before Magisterial District Judge Michael Mahady on Nov. 2, according to online court documents.