AJC Watchdog: First Alert

Keeping watch on those who hold the public trust and money

Bad check leads to warrant but no arrest for Hapeville official Ruth Barr

Hapeville city councilwoman Ruth Barr seems to have a habit of owing people money and not paying them.

She is facing a felony theft charge in Gwinnett County involving allegations she stole $109,000 from her dying brother-in-law and a civil court judgment totaling $237,000 won by a former tax client who says Barr stole her money and still hasn't repaid her. Oh, and there's all those tax clients and public safety officers who could be facing problems as the state department of revenue investigates Barr's troubled tax preparation business. 

Now, the city is again being scrutinized because the local police failed to arrest Barr last month over a bad check she passed to a local businessman who had to chase her down at a city council meeting to get paid the $742 she owed him.

Police failed to take Barr into custody on July 6 after a judge issued an arrest warrant in the bad check case. They instead, allowed Barr to call the victim in the case and work out a deal over the phone, a move that legal experts told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution and Channel 2 Action News is highly unusual. The news organizations have been investigating Barr's tax preparation business, which prompted the state Department of Revenue to open an investigation earlier this year.

Hapeville Police Chief Richard Glavose says his officer's actions were proper, but the episode is under review by  the city attorney's office.


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About the Author

Brad Schrade is a Pulitzer Prize-winning reporter on the AJC’s investigative team.