Judge Says Gambling Addiction Led Barba to Embezzle $760,000

Bishop resident JoAnn Barba has been sentenced in Federal Court for embezzling $760,000 from the Bishop branch of the Washington Mutual Bank. Officials also confirmed that much of the money was spent at the local casino. wamu

A U.S. Department of Justice official said that the embezzlement started in 2005 and continued until April of 2007. Barba had been a personal financial representative for the local branch when Washington Mutual Investigators started to look into the crime. The WAMU investigators then turned their information over to the FBI.

Lauren Horwood, with the U.S. Department of Justice reported that Barba embezzled approximately $760,000 between December of 2005 and April of 2007. Barba took the money out of the accounts of elderly people and repaid some of these accounts with money embezzled from other accounts, according to Horwood. After the bank repaid the accounts, Horwood said that WAMU would ultimately suffer a loss of $600,000.

Since then, Washington Mutual was taken over by Chase. Barba was arrested in May of 2008 and the Bishop woman pleaded guilty in February of this year. After several postponed dates, Barba was sentenced today, (Thursday, July 23, 2009.)

When the news first broke, there were unconfirmed reports that Barba was often seen at the local casino. Officials now confirm that the money was spent, in part or in whole, at the Paiute Palace Casino in Bishop.

After the arrest, a judge allowed Barba to be released from custody. One of the stipulations of the release, hand written onto the release paperwork, was that Barba could not enter a casino or other business establishment where gambling or gaming activities are conducted.

Officials with the Department of Justice say that in imposing the sentence, Judge Lawrence ONeal stated that Barbas actions were the result of her gambling addiction.

For the embezzlement, Barba will serve two years and nine months in prison. She has also been ordered to pay the bank $600,000 in restitution. Barba is set to self surrender on September 11th.

 
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