DAUPHIN COUNTY, Pa.– UPDATE: Nichole Collins has been placed on immediate temporary suspension, according to the Disciplinary Board of the Supreme Court of Pennsylvania. The suspension will take effect on February 24, 2018.
PREVIOUSLY: A Harrisburg woman is facing charges after allegedly stealing from the law firm who employed her, breaking into the firm, stealing employee credit cards, and vandalizing the building and equipment.
Nichole Collins, 35, is facing burglary, forgery, access device fraud and theft by unlawful taking among other related charges.
On November 20, the Attorney General’s office accepted a conflict on interest referral from the Dauphin County District Attorney’s Office to assume jurisdiction of the investigation of Collins, who is married to the Deputy District Attorney Joel Hogentogler.
Authorities found that Collins had been employed by Shaffer & Engle Law Firm from June 2014 to September 2017.
Towards the end of July 2017, the law firm’s accountant called Jeff Engle to see if their check writing policy had changed because checks made out to “CASH” were signed and cashed by Collins. After being confronted, Collins admitted to her co-workers that she had stolen the money. She was then terminated on August 14, 2017, and was advised she was no longer permitted on the premises of the law firm’s office, located in the 2200 block of Forest Hills Drive.
In September 2017, police received notice that an employee of the law firm had been stealing from its “cost account” which had been set up so that attorneys employed by the firm could pay for items such as filing fees and court reporters for cases.
On December 7, Engle contacted police saying that files from his office went missing, including the file he had put together on Collins and her criminal acts. Additionally, computer equipment was doused with an unknown sticky substance that made items unusable.
That substance was found again in other areas of the office building between December 23 and 27, causing a over $3,000 in damage to the property and equipment.
Additionally, an office employee said that her bag, which contained person credit cards, was stolen.
While investigating, police found that the law firms’ receptionist email account received an email on December 27 at 10:07 p.m. with a notification that a purchase for a $250 Seducer luxury rabbit vibrator and other sex toys were purchased with the stolen credit cards. The victim contacted her bank to alert them to the stolen credit card.
On December 28, the victim’s credit cards were attempted to be used at a Wendy’s in York, but it was rejected and the person then paid in cash. The Wendy’s employee gave a description of the suspect: a white female with blonde hair in her mid-thirties.
On January 3, officials met with a Bow Creek Financial representative that provided authorities with documentation of checks cashed by Collins, along with photographs of Collins cashing checks at the bank.
After further investigation, police found that Collins had a string of unlawful transactions and had unlawfully entered the law firm multiple times.
Now, she is facing charges.