The former practice manager of Wilmington Plastic Surgery was sentenced to nearly three years in prison Wednesday on more than a dozen embezzlement charges. Doctors within the local surgery practice hope other business owners in the community can learn from the case.
Guy Robert Williams, 46, pleaded guilty Dec. 3 in New Hanover County Superior Court to charges of 16 counts of embezzlement and 1 count of forgery, according to Assistant District Attorney Janet Coleman. On Wednesday, Judge W. Allen Cobb Jr. sentenced him to 35-51 months in the N.C. Department of Corrections, a suspended sentence of 45-108 months, and five years of supervised probation. He was ordered to pay $69,000 in restitution.
Williams was charged with embezzling in excess of $400,000 from Wilmington Plastic Surgery, which included unauthorized use of the company credit card and company checks between 2009 and 2014, Coleman said. In addition, he paid himself unauthorized bonuses and salary of about $150,000.
According to Dr. Chuck Kays, a surgeon at Wilmington Plastic Surgery, the practice first noticed an issue when a deposit was not made into a company account. Through work with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office and prosecutors, the case began to unfold.
“We did our due diligence like most medical practices do to make sure that money is being put in the appropriate place. It was only after there was a failed deposit that [we thought], why hasn’t this happened? And then that’s when we got to the bottom of it,” Kays said.
Williams was fired from Wilmington Plastic Surgery in March 2014. He was arrested by deputies with the New Hanover County Sheriff’s Office on May 29, 2014, charged with multiple embezzlement and forgery charges, according to jail records.
Williams’ “betrayal” has affected the entire company, Dr. Jeff Church said. His actions not only affected the doctors and practice, but the 40 employees at Wilmington Plastic Surgery and their families.
“We really made it a priority that it didn’t affect our patient care. And it didn’t,” Church said.
According to Church, a surgeon at Wilmington Plastic Surgery, Williams used the money to pay for lavish vacations, his house and repairs, delinquent income taxes, vehicles, food, clothing as well as increase his $88,300 salary without company authorization.
Both Kay and Church agreed the 22 months of investigation and legal process has been a struggle. But the doctors shared their appreciation to law enforcement and prosecutors for the outcome of the case, and expressed relief in going back to focusing completely on their patient’s care.
“We’ve all struggled with it. I think…we’re really happy that we can move on. And take care of our patients in this community like we’ve done for over 20 years,” Kays said.
Attorney Edwin West III, who represented Williams in the case, said Williams accepts responsibility for his actions. Through the case, Williams, his mother, wife, three children and friends have been impacted as well, he added.
On William’s behalf, West apologized to Wilmington Plastic Surgery for “the very specific betrayal” that has happened to the company and its employees.
“I think the take-home lesson is if you have a business and you think this is happening to you, you need to go to the sheriff and the district attorney, so you can get justice. Don’t try to resolve this on your own like so many people do. Because that person can go out and perpetuate that same behavior,” Kay said. “You need to stop them and be public with it…I want all the businesses out there that have had this happen to them or could have it happen to them in the future to do something about it. Because those people end up in another business and they take from somebody else. It’s got to be stopped.”