By Jim Hardin

Herald-Banner Staff

Royse City resident Billy Ray Benavidez has been sentenced to 10 years in prison for stealing almost $100,000 from his Rockwall employer, Goliad Dental.

The jury in 382nd Judicial District Court also assessed a $10,000 fine and ordered the 35-year-old Benavidez to pay restitution in the amount of $99,942.

Assistant District Attorney Damita Sangermano said his punishment was the maximum for theft over $20,000, but under $100,000.

According to testimony during his trial, Benavidez was hired as a dental assistant and later was promoted to office manager. He was responsible for all financial operations at the dental clinic. Benavidez, according to testimony, pocketed cash paid by patients.

He also encouraged patients to pay in cash, offering them a discount for cash payments.

The thefts occurred between September 2007 and May 2008.

According to evidence entered during the punishment phase of the trial, Benavidez was serving five years probation in New Mexico when he committed the Rockwall thefts. The New Mexico conviction also involved thefts from the dental clinic where he was employed.

The trial ended on Dec. 16.

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