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North Bend woman charged in office thefts

SEATTLE - A North Bend woman has been charged with first-degree theft for allegedly stealing money from senior citizens while working at a dentist's office in Bellevue.

Gail Bratton, 39, of North Bend, was arrested at her home Aug. 2 by the Bellevue Police Department and King County Sheriff's Office deputies. She was charged last week in King County Superior Court with first-degree theft, a felony that carries a maximum sentence of 10 years in prison and $20,000 in fines.

According to documents filed by King County Prosecutor Norm Maleng, Bratton is suspected of having stolen as much as $30,000 while working at Dr. Jeff Johnson's dental practice in Bellevue.

A break-in at the dentist's office in March prompted investigators to look for a suspect who was familiar with the office, since no signs of forced entry were evident and only select items, such as computer disks and drives, were taken.

Investigators followed the trail to at least five senior citizens who had allegedly paid Bratton in cash for services, thinking they were getting a discount since they didn't pay with check or credit card. The Prosecutor's Office believes records showing their outstanding balances were then apparently disposed of by throwing them away or by stealing the information kept on computer hardware and software.

According to police, Bratton is also a suspect in three fires that occurred at a dentist's office in Sammamish, where she was an employee before she worked at Johnson's office. At the Sammamish office, she was ultimately fired for writing herself phony prescriptions for the painkiller Vicodin, and for misplacing payment records that totaled between $10,000 to $15,000.

The first two fires were quickly extinguished, but the third fire completely destroyed the office, along with all the records inside. No charges have been filed against her, however, in that case and the arson is still under investigation.

Bratton is out on bail and will appear in court on Monday, Oct. 22, for her arraignment. Dan Donahoe, spokesman for the Prosecutor's Office, said he expects her to plead not guilty. No trial date has been set.

You can reach Ben Cape at (425) 888-2311, or e-mail him at ben.cape@valleyrecord.com.

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