Former health department worker pleads guilty to theft

A 40-year-old woman has pleaded guilty to stealing nearly $17,000 from the Tacoma-Pierce County Health Department while she worked there as a budgeting and accounting coordinator.

Dolanna K. Burnett, convicted late last month of first-degree theft, identity theft and forgery, escaped jail time as a first-time offender but was ordered to pay nearly $24,000 in restitution, investigation costs, court fees and fines, court records show.

She was charged with nine felonies in March after Health Department officials hired an outside investigator to look into four instances in which fraudulent checks were issued from the agency’s accounts, the records show.

The investigator found that Burnett identified Health Department clients due for a refund, had duplicate checks issued and deposited them into her own accounts.

Burnett was fired from her $79,955-per-year job in January after the theft came to light.

The Health Department told state auditors it has put additional safeguards in place to limit similar fraud in the future, state records show.