Woman Sentenced to 27 Months in $1.5 Embezzlement for Shopping Sprees

A woman accused of embezzling more than $1.5 million from a credit union and buying more than 1,500 items, including hundreds of pairs of shoes and a $60,000 swimming pool, has been sentenced to 27 months in prison.

Betty Jean Barachie, 39, of Kunkletown also bought 58 coats, 16 chain saws, a $25,000 John Deere tractor and more than 3,000 books, piling most of the items in her home with the tags still attached, said Dr. George Perovich, an Allentown psychologist. "She was a compulsive shopper and was one of the most extreme cases I'd ever seen."

Barachie acknowledged stealing money from the Northampton-Carbon County Federal Credit Union, where she worked, from 1995 to 2003. She pleaded guilty in October to charges of embezzlement and filing a false federal tax return.

During Tuesday's sentencing, U.S. District Judge Eduardo C. Robreno chastised the U.S. attorney's office for failing to prosecute others allegedly involved in looting what was believed to be millions from the credit union, which became insolvent and was forced to close in September 2004.

"You have a small fish here. Where are the big fish? No one else has been charged with a parking ticket in this case," Robreno said.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Bernadette McKeon said a grand jury is considering whether additional indictments are appropriate.

Barachie has already begun working to pay back the money she stole by selling her purchases on e-Bay. She's sold 1,000 items so far, bringing in $60,000, defense attorney John Waldron said. Another 500 items are still up for sale.

The judge ordered her to pay $50 a month in restitution while she's in prison and at least $200 a month once she's released.