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CPA arraigned in trust fund embezzlement

December 28, 2010|Tribune Staff Report

BRIDGMAN — A local certified public accountant has been arraigned in Berrien County Trial Court in St. Joseph in connection with the alleged embezzlement of nearly $100,000 from a trust fund.

Michigan State Police in Bridgman said on Tuesday that Richie Barnes was arraigned last week on a two-count felony warrant. Police said the warrant was issued despite the fact Barnes had repaid about three-fourths of the money allegedly taken from the trust fund by November 2009, just two months before police launched their investigation.

They said Barnes was a partner at the accounting firm of Barnes & Ross in November 2008, when a firm administrator discovered discrepancies in trust fund accounting records. Barnes’ partner, Stephen Ross, resigned, police said, after reviewing the records and confronting Barnes.

Officers said the funds allegedly were taken from the trust fund account of Winifred Lentz around the time of Lentz’s death in 2005. Falsified documents were used to disguise where the money actually went, police said

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They said Barnes used the money to carpet his home and purchase Euros during a period when he took a cruise. He also allegedly took more than $45,000 to pay off a personal loan.

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