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Perham eye clinic awarded additional $45,893 in wake of embezzlement conviction

An embezzlement case involving a Perham-based eye clinic and a former employee appears to have reached conclusion, following a July 21 judgement in Otter Tail County District Court.

The latest, and presumably final, criminal court action was initiated by the Minnesota Eye Clinic Network, which sought repayment for $86,598 in legal fees, court costs and other expenses.

The action stems from Ruth Ann Ramsay's conviction of theft from the Eye Care Network, where she worked from 1999 to 2007. She was alleged to have stolen $124,967 over the eight-year span, and was initially charged with seven counts of theft and seven counts of theft by swindle. Following a plea agreement earlier this year, Ramsay pled guilty to one count of theft.

In a subsequent civil court action, Ramsay and MECN reached a settlement whereby Ramsay paid $125,121 to MECN.

Additional restitution of $86,598 was requested in the recent criminal court action. Judge Barbara Hanson ordered Ramsay to pay $45,893 to MECN. Most of the sum is for $42,800 in attorney fees and $2,214 in accounting fees.

However, the judge concluded that MECN's request for $25,200 in lost doctors' wages and services would not be awarded, based on the absence of evidence and difficultty of determining the lost earnings. In addition, miscellaneous phone, travel and office expenses were not included in the restitution award.

Defense attorney Reid Brandborg argued that the losses described by MECN were not reasonable; that they were exaggerated; and the losses were part of MECN's "plan to cause her (Ramsay) severe social, psychological and financial repercussions."

Further, Brandborg contended that his client did not have the ability to pay.

The court ruled, however, that through a repayment plan, the defendant would have the ability to repay the $45,893 in additional restitution.

For the criminal theft charge, Ramsay served 20 days in jail; paid a fine of $500; and was placed on supervised probation for five years.