by LaShanda D. Maze
Jose Barba, Jr., a former student of the University of La Verne, was sentenced Aug. 18 for grand theft by embezzlement at Pomona Valley Superior Court.
Barba received three years of formal probation and was given the choice of either 180 days in county jail, Caltrans work or community service. Barba was also ordered to make full restitution to the University.
Barba, who was a senior and former treasurer of the Associated Student Federation (ASF) Forum, was arrested on campus May 22 by the La Verne Police Department for allegedly stealing approximately $9,500. He was later released on a $20,000 bond.
When Barba was asked if he would like to comment on the charges brought against him, he declined to say anything.
An investigation was prompted by the University last spring when it was discovered that ASF funds had not been correctly allocated for last year.
“I received a print out from the accounting office of all the deductions from the year, to kind of get an idea for budgeting [for the 1997-98 year],” said Dan Lougheed, ASF president.
It was from that print out that he said he became aware that something was wrong.
“There was several expense reports for Jose and I knew he wasn’t buying as much for ASF,” said Lougheed.
Barba’s name appeared on expense reports in the print out on a regular basis, according to Lougheed.
Lougheed then went to Morel with the information. Morel had already been aware of the discrepancies, according to Lougheed.
Although Don Morel, co-adviser of ASF, could not go into detail about the investigation, he wanted to emphasize that it is important for every student to understand that all of ASF funds are currently accounted for.
“ASF is accountable for every penny that they have,” said Morel.
Trial for Barba began on June 23 where he appeared at Pomona Municipal Court with Judge S. Clark Moore presiding. Pleading not guilty, Barba was then scheduled for a preliminary hearing.
Appearing on July 21 with his attorney, Barba showed proof of restitution that he repaid the University. Barba then changed his plea to no contest, which was treated by the court in the same manner as a guilty plea.
The charges of grand theft by embezzlement is for any amount more than $400.
“We do make periodic checks of the accounting procedures of student government,” said Morel.
Changes have now been made to the procedures of ASF accounting to avoid this happening again.
According to Lougheed, ASF is tightening up its accounting procedures.
“We’re going to try to not handle money as much as possible,” said Lougheed. This definitely changes the way accounting is done and the accountant will be a lot more scrutinized, according to Lougheed.
Barba was treasurer of ASF for two years. ASF was unaware of any wrongdoing prior to the investigation.
“We were clueless [about the embezzling]” said Scott Mac Kay, a 1997 graduate and former student representative for the Board of Trustees.
Reportedly, Barba had suddenly stopped showing up for meetings toward the end of the school year and was resigned from his position by ASF. There is a general rule that after three missed meetings, the forum automatically resigns the member from his position.
“He wasn’t coming to meetings, he wasn’t doing his job, everyone knew that,” said Par Nag, senior and former ASF secretary.
There were no telltale signs that he was embezzling funds said Nag. “We never questioned accounting. ASF has so many bills so it wasn’t odd that money was being spent.”
“From what I understand is that he had cash advances in his name and false receipts,” said Mac Kay. “He also charged things to the account for computer upgrades on his computer. I was told after his trial that those were some of his methods.”
“It looked legit as far as accounting is concerned,” said Lougheed. Many of Barba’s personal expenses were used to look like they were ASF expenses instead.
“Personally I think he saw a way he could take advantage of the system,” said Lougheed. “I think it was probably something he got caught up in.”