A probation officer who embezzled more than $ 400,000 at an addiction treatment center in Rancho Mirage pleaded guilty Wednesday and was immediately sentenced to more than six years in prison.
Kelly Michelle Barnes, 42, is guilty of four separate criminal cases at the Larson Justice Center in Indio.
Barnes was arrested last October on suspicion of misappropriating addiction treatment funds from Dr. Harry Haroutunian arrested between September 2018 and March 2020.
Haroutunian, who is the author of several books on addiction treatment, has offices in Rancho Mirage and Beverly Hills, and has appeared on various programs including the Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Drew on Call, and Dr. Phil. show according to his personal website.
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In one case, Barnes was charged with four crimes and three offenses, but pleaded guilty to being embezzled by an employee, court records show.
She also pleaded guilty to identifying four fraudulent offenses dating back to 2015 in another case. Details of this case were unclear. Barnes had also resolved two crimes with various parole violations under the plea agreement.
Barnes was sentenced to six years and four months in prison and received 252 days in prison. She was also ordered to repay Haroutunian $ 419,336 and $ 57,225 to an undisclosed victim in the second identity theft case, prosecutors said.
A statement in support of an arrest warrant prepared by Riverside County’s Sheriff Investigator Jomar Vanderhoof said Barnes had forged Haroutunian’s signature on several checks made out to her for a total of $ 419,336.
Investigators said she cashed some checks on her personal bank account and transferred the money to a PayPal account linked to her husband’s butane honey oil business.
Sheriff’s MPs issued a search warrant on their home in March that revealed a honey oil operation, along with unspecified evidence linking them to fraud, authorities said.
Honey oil, also known as “wax” or “hash”, is a liquefied derivative of marijuana. Drug laboratory operators use butane stoves to extract tincture from cannabis plants, which can be mixed with anything and bottled.
In the last decade there have been numerous explosions and fires throughout the Inland Empire as a result of the production of honey oil from its own production.
Barnes has documented counterfeiting, embezzlement, identity theft, grand theft, and fraudulent theft convictions in Riverside County, court records show.