Guilty Plea in WAMU Embezzlement Case

A former bank employee has pleaded guilty to embezzling $760,000 from the Bishop branch of Washington Mutual Bank.

In April of 2007, Sierra Wave reported the early stages of the investigation into what was then reported as a possible embezzlement of a large amount of money from the Bishop Washington Mutual. With the large amount of money alleged, the FBI took over the investigation.

Over a year later, in May of 2008, Bishop Police arrested 42 year old Bishop resident Jo Ann Barba. On Friday, Barba pleaded guilty to bank embezzlement.

wamu300.jpgUp until the Washington Mutual investigators started to look into the crime, Barba had worked as a Personal Financial Representative for the bank. Lauren Horwood, with the US Department of Justice reports 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 says that WAMU would ultimately suffer a loss of $600,000.

Barba was not considered a flight risk. After the arrest, a judge allowed her to be released from custody. Amid speculation that Barba spent the money gambling, one of the stipulations of her release had beebn hand written onto the release paperwork. It said that Barba could not enter a casino or other business establishment where gambling or gaming activities are conducted.

Barba is scheduled to be sentenced May 8th. The maximum penalty for embezzlement by a bank officer is 30 years in prison and a $1,000,000 fine.

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