Convicted Teacher Union Official Writes Book

A former Pennsylvania teacher union president and regional director for political action, Lisa Barrett, was convicted of embezzling $60,000 from her union.  Pennsylvania allows teacher union officials to force teachers to join or pay forced dues.  Now she has written a book on how to survive in federal prison.  Steve McCarsky has the story in the Wilkes-Barre Times Leader.

A former Wyoming Area School District teacher who embezzled nearly $60,000 from the teachers’ union when she was president has written a “how to” book on surviving federal prison.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in September 2013 had charged Barrett, then 48, with one count of embezzlement of funds of a labor organization. Prosecutors had determined she had taken $59,732 from the Wyoming Area Education Association over several years, and said the union had determined $94,125 was missing, but they could not confirm the higher amount.

The embezzlement charge carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison followed by three years’ probation and a $250,000 fine. But as a first-time offender, Barrett was sentenced to 12 months in prison and ordered to pay a $2,500 fine, $28,539.86 in restitution and a $100 assessment, according to court papers.

Barrett, who was a high school career technology teacher, had resigned her position as union president and requested a sabbatical from work in February 2013 at the same time Luzerne County District Attorney Stefanie Salavantis confirmed her office had agreed to look into reports of possible missing funds.

U.S. District Judge James M. Munley denied her request.

Melissa Dolman, current president of the Wyoming Area Education Association, said Barrett has already made the court-ordered restitution of $28,539.86 to the union, and that Barrett had previously made partial restitution to the union before the court ordered her to pay the remainder of the amount that had been stolen.

Dolman declined comment on the proceeds from Barrett’s book and whether the union sought or planned to seek further compensation.

In regards to an early release from prison, Barrett had asked the presiding judge in her case that her sentence be modified either to an undefined “split sentence” such as prison and home confinement, or that it be changed to 12 months and one day.

U.S. District Judge James M. Munley denied her request.