Tuesday, March 12, 2014
FORMER MARSHAL PLEADS GUILTY TO THEFT OF ROSWELL CITY FUNDS
Defendant Pocketed $160K in Traffic Fines to ‘Finance’ Affair
Atlanta– Fulton County District Attorney Paul L. Howard, Jr. announces the conviction by guilty plea in the theft case against a former Marshal assigned to Roswell Municipal Court. During plea proceedings Tuesday, 42-year-old Gregorio Eduardo “Eddie” Barrera pleaded guilty to one count of Theft by Taking by Government Employee and Violation of Oath by Public Officer for stealing tens of thousands of dollars in traffic fines.
According to the investigation, the theft of funds occurred during a two-year span between January 2007 and February 2009. As part of his duties as a Marshal, Barrera was responsible for transporting money collected for traffic citation fines from the City of Roswell jail to the City of Roswell Courthouse. Barrera instead, diverted the money to his own use pocketing a total of $160, 398.54.
The scheme came to light in early 2009 while Barrera was on administrative leave for another issue. During his leave, an individual approached authorities with the City of Roswell claiming they had been falsely arrested for a traffic citation they had already paid. After the person produced a written receipt as proof of payment for the fine, Roswell authorities initiated an investigation. An audit revealed Barrera was stealing fines and manipulating the computer system to make it appear as if the fines were never paid. The investigation revealed Barrera deposited nearly $112, 000.00 in cash into his bank account and purchased a number of expensive items during the period in question. According to his attorney, Barrera used the money to finance an affair he was having at the time.
The State’s sentencing recommendation for Barrera’s crimes was five years in prison followed by five years on probation with full restitution in the amount of $160,000.00. However, citing the defendant’s extreme health issues and his compromised ability to earn an income beyond his social security benefits, Fulton County Magistrate Judge Karen Woodson sentenced the defendant to 20 years on intensive probation as part of a non-negotiated plea agreement. Barrera must serve the first three years of his probation on house arrest, wear an ankle monitor and be subject to a 24-hour curfew. He was also ordered to pay $25,000.00 in restitution- the amount representing the City of Roswell’s insurance policy deductible.
The case was prosecuted by Senior Assistant District Attorney Jay Hughes and DA Investigator Cameron Crandall both of whom are assigned to the Public Integrity Unit. Special Agent Ben Haynes of the Georgia Bureau of Investigation led the initial investigation.