Former bookkeeper admits to stealing over $250K from local church’s funds

Local News

NEWTON FALLS, Ohio (WKBN) – A Youngstown woman accused of stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the Newton Falls church where she worked has taken responsibility for her actions.

Former St. Mary and St. Joseph bookkeeper Rachelle Barb pleaded guilty to an aggravated theft charge on Tuesday. She admitted to taking $253,756.68 from the parish where she worked.

The discovery was made back in 2019, when Pat Kelly, the chief financial officer for the Diocese of Youngstown, said a normal parish audit revealed misappropriation of funds.

“From that information, we felt it was our duty then to cooperate with the criminal justice system and to report it to the proper authorities,” Kelly said.

Assistant Prosecutor Chuck Morrow said that over a period of almost five years, Barb electronically transferred money from the church’s account to her own bank account for personal use. He said many of her withdrawals were at a local racino.

“We continue to monitor all financial processes and controls within all Diocesan entities to ensure the highest integrity from those who serve,” Kelly said.

Prosecutors said Barb agreed to pay back the more than $253,000 she admitted to taking from the church.

“We commend the Trumbull County Sheriff’s Office and the Prosecutor’s Office for their competent handling of the matter,” Kelly said.

Barb faces up to 18 months in prison at her sentencing, which will be scheduled for a later date.

As part of the plea agreement, prosecutors said they’d support the recommendation of the adult probation department upon completion of their presentence investigation.

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