Reverse Mortgage Helps Town Recover Stolen Funds

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The Post Tribune reported that two thirds of the $300,000 stolen from the town of Merrillville by former bookkeeper Rosemary Barath has been recovered, thanks in part to a court order requiring her to obtain a reverse mortgage on her house said Councilman Joseph Shudick, D-5th.

“Approximately $200,000 of the $300,000 lost as a result of employee theft several years ago has come back to the town. We are working on the rest,” Shudick said.

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Clerk-treasurer Eugene Guernsey said the town has been aggressive in getting its money back from the longtime bookkeeper, including going after her pension and asking the court to order the reverse mortgage.

In November 2008, Lake County Superior Court Judge Thomas Stefaniak sentenced Barath to nine months in day-reporting house arrest and 39 months of probation.

Stefaniak also ordered her to pay close to $300,000 through the reverse mortgage and $1,000 per month. Barath, who said she had a gambling problem, admitted taking the money from the town between 2000 and 2006.

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