The means were similar, but the ends were not: Two workers each embezzled $1.5 million, one to support her shopping compulsion, and the other to support her son's stock car racing team.
Betty Jean Barachie of Kunkletown, Pennsylvania, was sentenced last month to 27 months in prison for stealing $1.5 million from the Northampton-Carbon County Federal Credit Union.
Over the course of 8 years, Barachie, who suffers from an extreme shopping compulsion, bought some 1,500 items, including hundreds of pairs of shoes, handbags, expensive jeans, baskets, and watches. She also used the embezzled funds to build a $60,000 swimming pool, buy 58 coats, 16 chain saws, a $25,000 John Deere tractor, and more than 3,000 books, as well as to finance gambling trips to Las Vegas and Atlantic City.
A psychologist testified that Barachie, who earned $40,000 a year as manager of the Lehighton branch of the credit union, admitted stealing a large but unknown amount of money from 1995 to 2003 and that she was ''depressed and suicidal'' because of her inability to stop spending money, the Morning Call newspaper reported.
Most of the items Barachie bought were never used and were piled in parts of her home with the price tags still attached, the psychologist said.
In sentencing Barachie, District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno chastised the U.S. Attorney's office for failing to prosecute others allegedly involved in looting the credit union, which became insolvent and was forced to close in September 2004, according to the Morning Call.
Meanwhile, in Raleigh, North Carolina, Georgia Norris was sentenced to 5 to 7 years in prison for stealing $1.5 million from Brock Cabinets, where she worked as the Raleigh office manager and bookkeeper.
Norris put the stolen money into a bank account she had opened in the name of "B.R.O.C.K.S." She then funneled thousands to her son's stock car racing team, T&R Motorsports, the News & Observer newspaper reported.
Learning of Norris's sentence, company co-owner Ammon Brock said: "That's not enough. It's kind of disappointing she didn't get more time than that."
Norris had to give up her home, car, other property, and her retirement account as partial restitution for the theft. But that only amounts to about $150,000 of the $1.5 million the company lost.
Brock Cabinets has filed a civil suit against Georgia Norris, her son, Randy Norris, and his wife seeking to recover money from the racing outfit. "[Georgia Norris] has very little to show for what she took. It went to her son's racing team, and they blew it," Brock told the News & Observer.
Sources: The Morning Call Online and Newsobserver.com