Deceased Teacher’s Son Gets Two Years for Pension Theft

Levon Chett Barrett, the son of a deceased APS teacher, got two years in prison, one year on house arrest and seven years probation for stealing his mother’s pension payments.

He also now owes restitution in the amount of $112,337.45. He is ordered to repay $85,712.52 to the Teachers’ Retirement System of Georgia and $26,624.93 to the Social Security Administration.

Notice from the State Attorney General’s office below the fold…

For immediate release:

January 30, 2013
Son of Deceased Public School Teacher Sentenced to Prison for Stealing Over $100K in Retirement Benefits

Yesterday, Levon Chett Barrett pleaded guilty to one count of Violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) (O.C.G.A. § 16-14-4(a)) for stealing retirement payments from the Teachers’ Retirement System of Georgia (TRS). He was sentenced by Gwinnett County Superior Court Judge Ronnie K. Batchelor to two years in prison, followed by one year on house arrest and seven years probation. He was also ordered to pay $112,337.45 in restitution — $85,712.52 to the Teachers’ Retirement System of Georgia and $26,624.93 to the Social Security Administration.

Barrett is the son of a retired Atlanta school teacher who began receiving retirement benefits in May 1997. The benefits were electronically transferred into Ms. Barrett’s checking account. Unbeknownst to TRS, Ms. Barrett died in September 2007. TRS continued paying retirement benefits until it discovered Ms. Barrett’s death in February 2010 via a call from the Atlanta Public Schools’ Human Resources Office.

An investigation revealed that the defendant stole the funds from his deceased mother’s account through use of a PIN-based financial transaction card, either by withdrawing funds directly from ATMs or by using the card to conduct in-person, telephonic, or on-line credit/debit financial transactions. When interviewed the by Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI) in July 2012, the defendant admitted to withdrawing and using funds from his mother’s account after her death.

Between October 2007 and February 2010, the defendant stole $85,712.52 in TRS funds from his mother’s bank account.

Assistant Attorney General Shepard Orlow prosecuted the case on behalf of the State of Georgia. The case was investigated by Special Agent Rocky Bigham of the GBI.


  1. saltycracker says:

    No computerized checks & balances with recorded death certificates to stop an automatic check ?

    Many in the private sector would gladly loan the TRS the missing shortage of $112k provided the TRS guarantees a minimum return of 7.5% on the money as they do for public workers.

    • Please elaborate on this guaranteed minimum return of 7.5%… ? Obviously, we don’t have all the numbers in this instance, but the back of the envelope says the dead woman was getting about $4,400 per month. Does that include a built in return of 7.5%?

  2. saltycracker says:

    The acturians for the TRS forecast a return of 7.5%.

    Don’t know the individal stats but – The math sez on her pension, the state needed a pot of money at her retirement of more than $1.3 million (assuming a max. 4% pullout) plus the 3% annual increase plus other pension benefits like medical.

  3. Wait the Teachers Retirement system uses a 7.5% return on contributions? Do I understand you right? I kick in $200 per paycheck and the TRS tells me I will earn 7.5% on that contribution until I pull it out? That doesn’t make any sense -using your numbers above she would have had to set aside over $43,000 per year for 30 years to get to $1.3 million. (That’s an average that doesn’t include compounding.)
    Somebody’s outta wack, it’s probably me, but do you have a formula that you’re using?

  4. seekingtounderstand says:

    And how many of us know folks who are double dippers? Or our governor is to receive three pensions plus benefits for life.

  5. saltycracker says:

    Pension funds include employee/employer contributions plus investment earnings less payouts and administration – Assuming a high rate of return & more folks coming in & putting stuff off until the future gets your promises beyond the pale of what private companies have been running from for years……New hires should be demanding fully funded 401k type plans with a kick in from the employer…….they are mobile & inheritable & real………

    If you want to freak out look at what GA Teachers pay their top administrators of the fund to hire firms to manage the money ! Recall a not so long ago article in the AJC that they could not even early retire from this staff because they couldn’t cut the few hundred grand check for unused vacation & sick pay….it is a financial tsunami, but the can can get kicked down the road until it can’t…..and Georgia is in better shape than most……

    Rate of return
    Georgia presumes a 7.50% return rate on its pension investments.[1]

    Read more:

    Some agencies in GA presume an 8% rate of return.

  6. saltycracker says:

    It is just too astounding to cover it all – most public workers do not work to 65 they want out in their early 50’s and that has a big impact on funds needed.

    Fidelity, Vanguard, any of the reputable companies can tell you what you’ll need. Here’s some responsible companies taking big hits to earnings:

    Govt would not raise taxes enough to get square and the employees could not afford it. But, out of sight, out of mind. Worry about it in future years.

    Again, if the funds are so adequate as claimed, do like private brokers do , no guarantees…..and take the general public out of the promise….

    • Harry says:

      Moving government workers to social security should happen – but never will. Just one more nail in the coffin.

      • saltycracker says:

        SS is another animal split between employer & employee. It is not in the same crazy league as public pensions. Some govt agencies have SS calculated in and some offer SS on top of the long term irresponsible pension promises. But what is interesting is the number of employees that when it is optional and they have to pay something, turn it down !

        In the private world the dumbest financial thing an employee can do is turn down a 401k at least to the employer contributions. I’ve talked to workers that have rejected that and optional health insurance to free up money for discretional fun – particularly automotive……

        • Harry says:

          Given the real possibility of hyperinflation in the near future, they may be smart not to opt for storing away the dollar-denominated acorns. As they say, inflation is a hidden tax and wealth-destroyer.

          I’m starting to believe that – in their efforts to force an equal outcome society – the regime communists actually support inflationary policy and are consciously working thereby to destroy any incentive for wealth creation and hope to create total dependency. From each according to his ability, to each according to his need. We’ll see how that plays out.

          • saltycracker says:

            Investments have a lot of options – haven’t studied how to not get burned as the govt will be one step faster protecting their employees.
            Guess a working ranch/farm or moving to a non-dollar pegged country might work.

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