Sweet Justice – One for the Good Guys

Convicted con Barry Webne turned fraud prevention expert – I don’t think so.

I met this ex-con a year ago when he was addressing a seminar I attended. I was offended that he, like so many other ex-cons, was provided a platform in a seminar designed for fraud experts. Any one who knows me well knows where I stand on this issue.
I am sure ex-con Webne remembers the session well and what I thought of him and his message. Needless to say my observation skills and assessment of him were right on – he is back in prison. So much for his fraud prevention consulting business.

Sorry for the long post – but this story is very interesting.

Man sentenced for $1M theft from employer – Webne advised firms on white-collar crime

By ERICA BLAKE
BLADE STAFF WRITER

After being released from federal prison more than a decade ago where he served time for embezzlement, Barry J. Webne became a self-professed adviser on white-collar crime to help companies avoid employee theft.

At the same time, the Ottawa Hills man was pilfering money from his new employer until – over five years – he had stolen more than $1 million from a former subsidiary of Block Communications Inc

Webne of 3803 Indian Rd. was sentenced in U.S. District Court in Toledo yesterday to five years and three months in prison, the maximum imprisonment recommended under the federal guidelines. In April, he pleaded guilty to one count of mail fraud.

Webne also was ordered to pay $1,138,334.90 in restitution, money he embezzled between July, 2001, and July, 2006, while employed by Community Communications Services, the former subsidiary. He was also placed on three years supervised release once he completes his imprisonment.

“I take full responsibility for this crime,” he said in court yesterday. “The Blocks were good to me. They hired me and I betrayed their trust.”

Webne, who had been convicted for bank fraud in 1996, said he was driven by the impulse to be a “big shot” and tried to be that man who could write a check when an organization or a group needed money. He said he was “immature” in believing he could provide a secure life for his family through the use of money.

Members of his family sat in the front row of the courtroom. Judge James Carr said Webne has brought shame on his four daughters and the rest of his family.

“I took advantage of a situation that I shouldn’t have, and I apologize to everyone in the courtroom,” he said.

“Why don’t you turn around and tell them? Don’t tell me,” Judge Carr said.

“I’m sorry,” Webne said to representatives of Block Communications.

The conviction is the second time Webne has served time for embezzlement. According to information from the U.S. District Court in Cleveland, Webne was charged with bank fraud in December, 1995, for stealing $1,037,321.52 from his then employer Bettcher Manufacturing Corp.

Webne was sentenced April, 1996, to federal prison for 30 months but was released after serving six months, said Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Karol. He added that Webne did not inform his new employer of his criminal past.

Mr. Karol added that Webne needed to spend more time behind bars so when released he would have “a respect for the law.”

The sentencing guidelines recommended a sentence of between 51 and 63 months. There is no parole in federal sentences but Webne could become eligible for early release – up to 54 days per year – if he earns credit for good behavior.

“Part of the issue was deterrence,” Mr. Karol said after the hearing. “By his own acknowledgement, anything but a stiff sentence is not a deterrence.”

Mr. Karol said as part of Webne’s seminars, he would warn firms that employees with their eyes on thousands of dollars would risk getting a six-month sentence. Mr. Karol told Judge Carr “this individual needs a serious sentence.”

authorization, write checks to himself, which checks he would sign using the signature stamp of a [Community Communications Services] employee authorized to sign the checks.”

Webne would cash the checks, destroy the canceled checks returned to the company, and make false entries into the bookkeeping records to conceal the embezzlement. The information filed by the government also said Webne submitted “fraudulent payroll change forms giving himself increases in salary to which he was not authorized.”

In November, 2003, Webne transferred to Corporate Protection Services, another Block Communications company. While general manager at CPS, Webne stole packages of blank checks for an account the company had at Sky Bank and wrote checks for his own benefit.

Defense attorney Jon Richardson told Judge Carr his client was “damaged,” adding that he now understands “he cannot be around other people’s money.”

“He’s not going to prison to get well,” Mr. Richardson said in court. ” He’s going to prison to be punished and then he’ll get well .”

was to report to start serving his sentence. He then warned him what would happen if he returned to the court on a similar charge after his release.

“Let me make it clear, if you haven’t already inferred, that coming back before me for any type of conduct like what brings you here now and I will ask how high can I go,” the judge said of time in prison.

Contact Erica Blake at:
eblake@theblade.com
or 419-213-2134.

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