COVINGTON—A 35-year-old office manager who embezzled about $135,000 from a Covington medical clinic was ordered Monday (June 22) by District Judge Reginald T. Badeaux to repay the stolen money or face up to 10 years in prison. Badeaux gave the defendant, Shantel Judah, of Slidell, five years to pay $123,000, and the remaining $12,000 will be seized from her retirement fund.
Badeaux also gave Judah suspended jail sentences that ranged from six months to 10 years in prison on each of the nine charges, as well as a total of five years of active probation. She pled guilty May 27 to stealing from Dr. Albert Tydings, 121 Lakeview Circle in Covington, altering bookkeeping records, and misusing his business credit cards in an embezzlement scheme that lasted from 2011 to 2013. A risk assessment conducted to help judges determine an appropriate sentence found that Judah was low risk to reoffend.
Judah had worked for Tydings for 10 years in January 2014, when he first noticed discrepancies in bookkeeping, business credit card accounts, and bank accounts that Judah had managed exclusively. Tydings reported to police that he was preparing documents for his personal tax returns on Jan. 23, 2014, when he discovered delinquent business credit card accounts, unpaid bills, unauthorized charges on his American Express and Chase bank cards, and he could not locate any cash deposits made by the business for 2011, 2012, or 2013.
Tydings confronted Judah, who initially denied wrongdoing but quit the next day. An investigation by the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office discovered thousands of dollars of unauthorized credit card charges and checks that had been written to the clinic and cashed by Judah. She never deposited the money into the clinic’s account. Judah also used Tydings’ bank account to pay some of her personal credit card bills. She increased her salary by at least $441 per pay period, paid for health insurance for herself and her family, paid her phone bill, and gave herself a car allowance, none of which Tydings had approved.
Judah was arrested Feb. 20, 2014, and she was ultimately charged with two counts of unauthorized use of an access device card, theft over $1,500, theft of business records, three counts of possession of a controlled dangerous substance by fraud, possession of testosterone, and insurance fraud.
Assistant District Attorney Harold Bartholomew prosecuted the case, which was investigated by the St. Tammany Parish Sheriff’s Office.