Make us your home page
Instagram

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Tarpon Springs bookkeeper gets 12 years in prison for stealing $2 million

LARGO — Sherri Lynn Ventresca stole for years from the two Palm Harbor cancer doctors she worked for, using millions of their money to buy four houses, motorcycles, a Ford sport utility vehicle and a Mercedes.

But she never made eye contact with the two oncologists at her sentencing hearing Friday, and did not mention them by name. Instead, she made a blanket apology to her own family and everyone else, and said, "I pray for forgiveness. I'm sorry."

If she glossed over the damage she caused, Pinellas-Pasco Circuit Judge Philip J. Federico did not.

He sentenced Ventresca, 51, of Tarpon Springs, to 12 years in prison followed by 18 years of probation. She had previously pleaded no contest to grand theft and scheming to defraud.

"It's been devastating, is the only way to describe it," Federico said.

"It appears the only reason for this was to further the lifestyle of somebody who wasn't satisfied making $35,000 a year."

Ventresca handled the books for doctors Anda Norbergs and Jay Rosen at their Palm Harbor practice and served, the judge noted, as the trusted adviser who was supposed to make sure their finances were handled properly.

Instead, she set up fake corporations that sounded like pharmaceutical companies. When she wrote out checks to herself, it looked like the doctors were paying for cancer drugs.

She stole more than $2 million in this and other ways from 2001 through 2007, said Detective Mitchell Reed of the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office. She bought one house for her son, one for her daughter, one for herself in Florida and one for herself in Indiana. She also bought several vehicles.

As she siphoned away money, the doctors could tell something was wrong, but couldn't pinpoint what. The practice was not making the money it should have.

At one point, the doctors could not pay for chemotherapy drugs, so they had to send their patients to outside hospitals instead of treating them in the comfort of their offices.

Disputes over money led doctors Norbergs and Rosen to sever their partnership, although they still did not know at that point they had been fleeced.

Norbergs ended up filing for bankruptcy. Rosen began practicing in Wyoming.

The scheme eventually unraveled when a pharmaceutical company complained about a bill that Norbergs knew should have been paid.

"I think what she did is horrible. I thought she was my friend," Rosen said during Friday's hearing.

"I'm still practicing, but it's extremely difficult," Norbergs said afterward.

She said the judge's word —devastating — was a good one to describe the ordeal. But she said she is happy that "I still have medicine. I can still take care of people."

Ventresca's attorney, Rohom Khonsari, pointed out that she had taken responsibility for her actions by pleading no contest to the charges against her.

When Ventresca gets out of prison, she must pay $500 a month in restitution. After six months, a judge will evaluate whether she should pay more. After Ventresca whispered in his ear, her attorney pointed out that it might be difficult for her to find another $35,000-per-year job after getting out of prison.

At the request of Ventresca and her attorney, Federico recommended that she be housed at a Hillsborough County prison with a faith-based program. However, he let her know that his recommendation does not guarantee that's where she will go.

Curtis Krueger can be reached at ckrueger@sptimes.com or (727) 893-8232

Tarpon Springs bookkeeper gets 12 years in prison for stealing $2 million 05/22/09 [Last modified: Friday, May 22, 2009 7:27pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times

    

Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

Loading...
  1. Once 'angry' about Obamacare, Republican David Jolly came to see it as 'safety net'

    Blogs

    Former Congressman David Jolly, who ran against Obamacare in 2013, said in an interview Monday night that he now considers it a "safety net."

  2. Five children hospitalized after chlorine release at Tampa pool store

    Accidents

    Five children were sickened at a pool store north of Tampa on Monday after a cloud of chlorine was released, according to Hillsborough County Fire Rescue.

  3. Deputies find unidentified decomposing body in Dunedin canal

    Public Safety

    DUNEDIN — Pinellas County sheriff's deputies found an unidentified male body floating in a Dunedin canal Monday afternoon, the Sheriff's Office said.

  4. Rays acquire slick-fielding shortstop Adeiny Hechavarria from Marlins

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Chaim Bloom said the Rays weren't necessarily in the market for a shortstop. The team has a number of those. But when the Marlins recently began shopping Adeiny Hechavarria, well, that was too much to pass up.

    Adeiny Hechavarria has emerged as one of baseball’s top defensive shortstops in the past three seasons with the Marlins.
  5. Lightning journal: Forward Yanni Gourde agrees to two-year deal

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Just three years ago, Yanni Gourde was fighting to stay in pro hockey.

    Tampa Bay Lightning center Yanni Gourde celebrates after scoring against the Florida Panthers during the second period of an NHL hockey game, Saturday, March 11, 2017, in Tampa, Fla. (AP Photo/Chris O'Meara) TPA108