Alleged embezzler arraigned
A former Hempfield woman, who fled the country to avoid charges she bilked more than $217,000 from a Youngwood medical practice, was back in Westmoreland County on Friday after being expelled by authorities in the Middle East.
Patricia Keller, 64, was arraigned before Greensburg District Judge James Albert on charges of failing to attend a 2011 court appearance before Judge Debra Pezze on charges that she stole the money from the office of Dr. Andrew Stroh while working as the manager of his Tri-County Occupational Medicine practice.
Keller, who appeared in the nearly empty courtroom handcuffed and wearing a dark blue prison jumpsuit, listened attentively as Albert spoke about the charges against her. The only time she spoke was to tell Albert that she would need a public defender to handle the charges against her.
Keller, who lists her address as Elizabeth, Allegheny County, was ordered held in the Westmoreland County Prison on $750,000 bond.
For Keller, a white-haired registered nurse, her bizarre journey to Friday's hearing began when she was fired in 2009 after Stroh discovered she had used several business credit cards for cash withdrawals or personal purchases between August 2003 and May 2009, according to court records.
Stroh could not be reached for comment.
Authorities allege Keller wrote checks to herself and opened the credit accounts in her employer's name to finance shopping trips and lavish vacations in Las Vegas, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Aruba and Mexico.
Keller was taken into custody at Dulles International Airport near Washington on July 6 after authorities in the United Arab Emirates expelled her, allowed her to board a plane to the United States, then notified U.S. officials when she would land on American soil.
She was held in a detention center in Alexandria, Va., while awaiting extradition to Pennsylvania.
Police said Keller left the United States about a month before her scheduled court appearance in 2011, flew to Vancouver, British Columbia, then to Moscow and finally to Dubai with her former boyfriend, Alan Criswell, of Elizabeth.
Criswell, who could not be reached for comment, told police he flew home in the spring of 2011, but said Keller told him she planned to stay in Dubai and find a job, according to court records.
In May 2011, authorities learned Keller had opened a bank account in Dubai, although they were uncertain how she was supporting herself in what is ranked as one of the most expensive areas of the world in which to live.
Police said Keller appears to have literally walked away from her life in Westmoreland County, leaving behind personal items, clothing and furniture at her former residence on Allison Drive in Hempfield.
Keller owed her landlord $10,000 in rent and had been evicted, police said.
She faces a preliminary hearing before Albert on July 25.
Kari Andren is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-850-2856 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
Add Kari Andren to your Google+ circles.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Puppies’ eyes glued shut, South Huntingdon animal shelter says
- Keystone Bakery closes Greensburg store
- Excela, Pitt-Greensburg team on legacy videos for those in twilight of lives
- Jeannette Fire Department celebrates centennial
- Harrold Middle School students hit new high with food drive
- Greensburg still fighting waterlogged Lynch Field, may add drainage
- Westmoreland County, Mt. Pleasant Borough officials try to solve Willow parking issue
- Mt. Pleasant plan has no call for tax increase
- Mt. Pleasant Guard unit may be deployed again
- Sounds of Christmas coming to Fay-West region
- H&M to open in Westmoreland Mall