Bookkeeper pleads not guilty to stealing funds
by David Atchison
Dec 22, 2010 | 1827 views |  0 comments | 6 6 recommendations | email to a friend | print
PELL CITY — A plea of not guilty was entered on behalf of a former Wattsville Water Authority bookkeeper accused of stealing Authority funds.

Judy Ann Barker, 66, of Pell City was tentatively scheduled to appear in court last week for her arraignment but prior to the hearing, her defense attorney, Van Davis, filed a written waiver of arraignment and entered a plea of not guilty on her behalf.

St. Clair County Assistant District Attorney Carol Boone said Barker is tentatively scheduled to appear in court in February to face the charges brought against her by the state.

District Attorney Richard Minor said shortly after Barker’s arrest in November, she was indicated by a grand jury for first-degree theft of property, identity theft and the fraudulent use of a credit card.

Her arrest stems from an audit conducted by the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts. The audit was completed in 2010. Auditors reviewed Wattsville Water Authority financial records for the period of Jan. 1, 2007-July 31, 2009, and alleged that $368,112 was missing.

“An investigation was completed after information from the results of an audit was brought to the District Attorney’s Office,” Minor said. “At that time, we requested an investigation by ABI.”

He said the Alabama Bureau of Investigation completed the investigation.

“The result of that investigation was presented to a grand jury that handed down this indictment,” Minor said shortly after Barker’s arrest.

The audit performed by the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts charged the amount missing in the audit to Barker.

Barker’s defense attorney says his client did nothing wrong.

“Ms. Barker was an employee for Wattsville Water for several years,” Davis said. “During those years, they had routine, regular audits conducted annually with no improprieties. Approximately four or five years ago, there were changes in personnel. That seems to be when the problems began.”

Barker has remained out of jail on a $10,000 bond since her arrest.

“If there is money missing (from the Wattsville Water Authority), she didn’t take it,” Davis said shortly after Barker’s arrest in November.

According to charges against Barker in the Alabama Department of Examiners of Public Accounts audit report, the report alleges “personal items were purchased using the credit card of the Wattsville Water Authority.”

The audit alleges that “funds were collected and recorded but not deposited into the bank. … Reconnection fees collected from customers were not recorded in the account system.”

The audit alleges that customers’ payments were posted as adjustments to the accounting records, and manual receipts were issued for water deposits and tap fees, but were not deposited.

The state audit also alleges that “customer payments were not properly recorded or deposited into the correct bank account,” and “bad check fees and the original amount of the check were not recorded into the accounting records.”

The audit goes on to state that “revenues received from customers, businesses and governmental agencies were not posted to the accounting records.”

Contact David Atchison at datchison@dailyhome.com.

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