Crime

Judge rejects plea in fraud case, orders defendant held on $100,000 bond

Cheri Mathias, who pleaded no contest to stealing more than $88,000 from her employer, a local chiropractor, looks to her attorney, Phillip Paine. During the hearing the judge rejected her plea, increased her bond and put a trial date for her on the docket.
Cheri Mathias, who pleaded no contest to stealing more than $88,000 from her employer, a local chiropractor, looks to her attorney, Phillip Paine. During the hearing the judge rejected her plea, increased her bond and put a trial date for her on the docket. ttompkins@bradenton.com

A judge rejected a Bradenton woman’s plea at her sentencing hearing Thursday and ordered her held on a $100,000 bond.

Cheri Marie Mathias, 34, pleaded no contest April 18 to one count of grant theft of more $50,000 but less than $100,000. She is charged with stealing more than $88,000 from her former employer, a local chiropractor. Her case will be set back on the trial docket.

Circuit Judge Deno Economou heard testimony from the victim. Before hearing arguments from both attorneys regarding a negotiated plea agreement of a maximum three years for Mathias, the judge instead threw it out.

“I am rejecting the plea. ... I am not accepting the plea based on what I heard at this point,” Economous said.

Economou immediately revoked her previous bond of $7,500. Mathias had been out on bond since her initial arrest May 12, 2014.

Defense attorney Phillip Paine immediately asked the case to be put back on the docket as deputies were handcuffing Mathias.

“Based on what I just heard, the court is not going to accept the offer of the state, so I reject the plea, so we start all over again. She can plead not guilty and go to trial,” Economou said. “Bond is now revoked. Bond is now set at $100,000, no modifications.”

Mathias’ next scheduled court appearance will at 9:30 a.m. Oct. 4 for a docket sounding hearing.

Economou listened for nearly 15 minutes as chiropractor Dr. Ronald Gilbert of Gilbert Chiropractic Clinic, 5949 17th Ave. W., Bradenton, detailed the shocking discovery Mathias, his office manager had been defrauding him and the financial ruin it left his business in.

“I discovered to my dismay that Ms. Mathias was writing checks to herself and forging my name,” Gilbert read from a prepared statement.

Gilbert said he called his accountant when the discovery was made and, as soon as Mathias saw him arrive with the accountant, she left under the ruse her son was sick. She would later admit the fraud in a phone call.

When questioned by Gilbert through text messages he read in court, Mathias said she didn’t have any of the money she had taken to pay bills. She said she was sorry but later said she didn’t know the amount she had taken was in the tens of thousands.

“To date, Ms. Mathias has spent one day in jail. Her actions have been financially devastating to me,” Gilbert said. “I discovered, after hundreds of hours of reviewing three years worth of days sheets, ledgers and bank accounts, she ruined my practice to whit.”

In addition Gilbert discovered Mathias has been taking money from the business cash box and patients. He used one blind patient as an example. Mathias had the women go next door to get cash instead of using a credit card to pay for supplements and later pocketed the cash.

Mathias sat at the defense table repeatedly turning to her attorney making comments denying Gilbert’s account of what had happened.

Gilbert said he also lost money because Mathias failed to submit or incorrectly submitted many claims to insurance companies for payment.

“I came close to shutting down my practice,” Gilbert said.

Jessica De Leon: 941-745-7049, @JDeLeon1012

  Comments