Thursday, January 25, 2018
An East Shore attorney who is the wife of a Dauphin County prosecutor has been charged with embezzling from her former law firm and then burglarizing its offices after she was fired.
Nichole A. Collins, 35, was arrested this week following a probe by the state attorney general's office. The county district attorney's office referred the case to state investigators because Collins is married to Deputy District Attorney Joel Hogentogler.
Collins, who was fired from the firm of Shaffer & Engle, couldn't immediately be reached for comment on the case Wednesday afternoon.
The charges filed with District Judge William Wenner include counts of burglary, forgery, theft, receiving stolen property, access device fraud and criminal mischief.
Special Agent Jessica L. Eger wrote in arrest papers that Jeff Engle, a partner in Shaffer & Engle, contacted Lower Paxton Township police about Collins in September. She had worked for the firm for about three years.
Engle reported to police that Collins had been stealing from the firm's cost account, which was meant to cover filing fees and court reporter expenses. Collins had admitted committing the thefts to Engle and fellow attorney Elisabeth Pasqualini, Eger wrote.
The agent said it was discovered that Collins had embezzled more than $8,000. She was fired in August and told to stay off the law firm's property.
On Dec. 7, Engle called Eger to report that files were missing from the office, including one on he had kept on Collins' alleged criminal acts and a file that contained passwords for his work and personal accounts.
Three weeks later, Pasqualini returned from a holiday break to find a small black and pink camo flashlight sitting on her desk, the agent said. Eger said Hogentogler told her during a later interview that such a flashlight had been in his and his wife's home.
Pasqualini also discovered that a purse containing her personal credit cards was missing from the office, Eger said.
An "unknown sticky substance" was found on the office's computer equipment, the agent wrote. It cost several thousand dollars to repair that damage, she said.
Pasqualini later found that her personal credit card had been used to order more than $300 worth of sex toys. That was just the first of a spree of purchases made with credit and debit cards stolen from the law office, Eger said. She said Collins also forged and cashed the personal checks of her co-workers.
Collins was photographed by surveillance cameras at some of the businesses where the alleged thousands of dollars' worth of financial crimes occurred, Eger wrote.
Collins remains free on $25,000 bail, court records show. A preliminary hearing on the case is scheduled for February.