Friday, January 1, 2016

Ex-Allen church secretary admits embezzlement in Kentucky

A former secretary at Scottsville Baptist Church pleaded guilty to embezzling church funds in federal court Monday.

Patricia Barlow, 49, of Scottsville, entered guilty pleas in U.S. District Court on three counts of wire fraud.

As part of a plea agreement subject to approval by U.S. District Judge Greg Stivers, Barlow would pay $274,846 in restitution.

The U.S. Attorney's Office for the Western District of Kentucky charged Barlow with the crimes in an information.

Barlow was accused of making "unauthorized transfers to pay for personal expenses using Scottsville Baptist Church funds, resulting in a total loss of over $270,000," according to court records.

The fraudulent wire transfers documented in the information against Barlow occurred between Jan. 7, 2011, and Jan. 18.

Shortly after Barlow was charged this month, Scottsville Baptist Church released a statement that said a bank employee noticed an anomaly with the church's credit card account in March and notified a branch manager.

Further investigation indicated Barlow used the credit card for personal purchases.

"When confronted on March 4 ... with the evidence, Mrs. Barlow's only statement was, 'I am not going to deny it,' " the statement from the church read. "From that moment, Mrs. Barlow's employment was terminated."

The three wire transfers specifically listed in the federal information totaled $2,337.29, but Assistant U.S. Attorney Daniel Kinnicutt said the government would have proved losses to the church totaling $274,846 had the case gone to trial.

In court Monday, Kinnicutt said that, as the church secretary, Barlow maintained the church's financial records and paid bills, but had no oversight while performing those duties.

Each count of wire fraud is punishable by up to 20 years in prison, meaning that Barlow could face up to 60 years in prison altogether.

Her plea agreement, however, recommends significantly less punishment based on federal sentencing guidelines that take into account the nature of the offenses and the defendant's criminal history.

Barlow's sentence will be determined at a later hearing by Stivers.

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