For Immediate Release - September 08, 2011

Husband and Wife Plead Guilty, Sentenced for Stealing Approximately $500,000 From Partners Healthcare

Couple Used Stolen Funds to Make Personal Purchases Including Cell Phones, GPS Devices, DVDs, and Cameras

DEDHAM - A former Westwood woman and her husband have been sentenced to jail after pleading guilty to stealing approximately half a million dollars from the wife's former employer, Partners Healthcare, Attorney General Martha Coakley announced today.

Carol Peterson, age 59, of Cape Coral, Florida, pled guilty in Norfolk Superior Court to charges of Larceny Over $250 (2 counts), False Entries in Corporate Books (2 counts) and Conspiracy. Her husband, Robert Peterson, age 67, pled guilty to charges of Larceny Over $250 and Conspiracy. After the pleas were entered, Superior Court Judge Mitchell Kaplan sentenced the Petersons each to two and a half years in the house of correction, one year to serve with the balance suspended for three years. The Petersons must also complete 250 hours of community service.

In July 2010, the Attorney General's Office began an investigation after the activities were discovered by Carol Peterson's former employer. For several years, Mrs. Peterson was the executive director of two medical practices affiliated with Partners Community Healthcare, Inc. (PCHI), a division of Partners Healthcare. Her job duties included the review and approval for payment of invoices received by these two medical practices. Mr. and Mrs. Peterson stole approximately $450,000 from PCHI by creating and submitting fraudulent invoices from three companies they secretly controlled.

Investigators discovered that Mr. Peterson created three distinct companies and opened bank accounts and post office boxes for each. Mrs. Peterson would then allegedly submit and approve fraudulent invoices for payment for goods and services that were never provided to PCHI by these three companies. Mr. Peterson withdrew much of the stolen money from the bank accounts in cash. The Petersons used the funds for their own personal purposes.

Investigators also discovered that Mrs. Peterson stole approximately $36,000 from her employer in another scheme in which she deceived the company into paying for personal purchases she made.

Among the purchases that investigators allege Mrs. Peterson made with the stolen funds including cell phones, GPS devices, cameras, DVDs, and office supplies.

She claimed in the fraudulent invoices that these purchased items were business related. In many cases Mrs. Peterson altered the invoices to hide the descriptions of the actual items she purchased and she would sometimes include her purchases with legitimate business purchases in order to conceal the personal purchases.

On December 1, 2010, a Norfolk County Grand Jury returned indictments against both Carol and Robert Peterson. The Petersons were arraigned on December 17, 2010, in Norfolk Superior Court where they pled not guilty. The Petersons pled guilty and were sentenced to jail on September 6, 2011.

The case was prosecuted by Margret Cooke, Chief of AG Coakley's Fraud and Financial Crimes Division and Lee Hettinger, Chief of AG Coakley's Western Massachusetts Office and was investigated by Financial Investigators Taylor Glynn and Jessie Dean. Massachusetts State Police also assisted with the investigation. Partners Healthcare cooperated fully with the Attorney General's investigation.