Ex-fugitive stole $250K from Youngwood medical practice, police claim
By Mary Pickels
Published: Friday, Aug. 16, 2013, 12:01 a.m.
A former Hempfield woman who fled the country to avoid charges of stealing from a Youngwood medical practice may have absconded with more money than investigators originally believed, police said Thursday.
Patricia Keller, 64, had been charged with stealing about $217,000 between 2003 and 2009 from the office of Dr. Andrew Stroh while managing his Tri-County Occupational Medicine office.
After further investigation, police now believe that figure may be closer to $250,000, according to Westmoreland County Detective Will Brown.
Keller was returned to Westmoreland County after a two-year manhunt that led police from Canada and Russia to Dubai.
Authorities allege Keller wrote checks to herself and opened credit accounts in her employer's name to finance shopping trips and lavish vacations in Las Vegas, Florida, Arizona, Colorado, Aruba and Mexico.
She fled the country in 2011, failing to appear before Westmoreland County Judge Debra Pezze on charges relating to the alleged thefts.
On Thursday, she waived her right to a preliminary hearing before Greensburg District Judge James Albert on charges of failing to appear in court in 2011 and was returned to the Westmoreland County Prison where she is being held on $750,000 bond.
Since her arrest, details about the last two years of Keller's life have been pieced together by authorities, Brown said.
On Thursday, he said Keller apparently supported herself in Dubai by working at a preschool.
Earlier, Alan Criswell, Keller's boyfriend, who had traveled with her but returned home alone in 2011, said he was unsure how Keller supported herself in Dubai.
Brown said officials there cooperated with U.S. investigators, revoking Keller's passport after determining that her travel visa had expired.
Following a hearing in Dubai, she was expelled from the country. Officials allowed her to board a plane to the United States, then notified U.S. officials that she was bound for Dulles International Airport near Washington, D.C.
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, a white-haired registered nurse, appeared for her hearing handcuffed, wearing a dark blue prison jumpsuit and escorted by sheriff's deputies into the courtroom's bullpen.
Represented by the public defender's office, Keller is scheduled for court arraignment on Oct. 2.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or firstname.lastname@example.org.
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