Francis Corey-Boulet gets 3 1/2 years for theft of money from clinic he managed
August 28, 1999
John Gillie; The News Tribune
A King County judge Friday rejected a defense plea for a 90-day "first-time offender" sentence for the former husband of a prominent Pierce County deputy prosecutor.
Superior Court Judge Ronald Kessler instead imposed a three-year, seven-month sentence on Francis Corey-Boulet in the theft of more than $600,000 from a Tacoma medical clinic he managed for nearly eight years.
Corey-Boulet pleaded guilty to one first-degree theft and nine second-degree theft charges earlier this summer in a plea bargain with prosecutors, who dropped 75 other charges.
According to court documents, he wrote hundreds of checks to himself on the account of Pacific Sports Medicine Inc. and deposited them in his bank account. He then withdrew the money in cash through an automatic teller machine.
Francis Corey-Boulet is the former husband of Pierce County deputy prosecutor Barbara Corey-Boulet. She divorced him last spring, a year after he came under investigation for stealing from the clinic.
She since has tried to put legal distance between herself and her former spouse, declaring bankruptcy and avoiding any public show of support for him.
Barbara Corey-Boulet headed the Pierce County prosecuting attorney's special assault unit for nine years and now heads its appeals division. She is known as an unrelenting advocate for stern punishment for criminals.
King County prosecutors handled the case of her former husband because Pierce County Prosecuting Attorney John Ladenburg thought his office was too close to the matter.
Kessler's sentence matched the recommendation from King County deputy prosecutor Scott Peterson, but was considerably below the normal maximum sentence of 4 years and 9 months.
The sentence also was just a little more than half the 7-year exceptional sentence one of the defendant's victims had sought.
Defense attorney William Michelman had suggested that the judge impose the 90-day sentence allowed for first-time offenders because the former clinic manager had no criminal record.
He noted that, over his career, the defendant had spent hours as a volunteer in community activities and had already lost his job, his retirement, his marriage, his financial security and his reputation as a result of the 85 theft charges brought against him.
"It was all his fault that he lost all of these," Michelman said, "but that's a big price to pay."
But Dr. Gregory Popich, one of Pacific Sports Medicine's founders, told Kessler he didn't consider his former business partner a first-time offender.
"He began his scheme of embezzlement the very day we opened our doors, July 9, 1990, and continued until he admitted his crime May 3, 1998," Popich said. "During this period he managed to 'milk the cow' approximately 385 times for nearly $650,000."
Robin Popich, another clinic partner and Gregory Popich's wife, said Francis Corey-Boulet almost ruined the clinic.
"We were about six weeks away from bankruptcy when we uncovered his theft," she told Kessler. "Not only did he steal money, but as planned, he left every system in the clinic in total chaos, methodically overdrafting our bank account and leaving vendors and taxes unpaid."
The clinic subsequently has refocused its operations and regained its financial feet, Gregory Popich said. But it will take another five years of tight personal finances for the founders to repay the debts Francis Corey-Boulet left, Robin Popich said.
She asked Kessler to impose a 7-year sentence, one year for each $100,000 she contends he stole.
The judge didn't order the slight, white-haired Corey-Boulet into immediate custody but ordered him to report to jail Sept. 17. Kessler set a restitution hearing for Nov. 5. If Corey-Boulet behaves well in prison, he could be out in a little more than 2 years and 4 months.
The criminal case isn't the end of conflict between Francis Corey-Boulet and his former partners.
A civil case is scheduled for trial this fall over the claims and counter-claims regarding the missing funds. Corey-Boulet claims in his counter-suit that the doctors owed him the money he helped himself to because he was entitled to profit-sharing at the clinic but received none.
The doctors who co-founded the clinic contend the clinic wasn't profitable because of Corey-Boulet's pilfering.
The defendant admitted that whatever his reasons were for taking the money, his methods were incorrect.
"Regardless of why I did it, what I did was wrong," he told the judge.
Gregory Popich said that in time the painful memory of Corey-Boulet will fade but time won't absolve him of misdeeds.
"Francis," he told his former clinic manager, "you will be forgotten, but not forgiven."
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* Staff writer John Gillie covers courts in Pierce County. Reach him at 253-597-8663 or email@example.com.
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