Georgia Department of Law, from the office of Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General


Son of Deceased Public School Teacher Charged with Stealing Almost $86K in Retirement Benefits

August 23, 2012

Yesterday, a Gwinnett County Grand indicted Levon Chett Barrett on one count of Violation of the Georgia Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act (RICO) (O.C.G.A. § 16-14-4(a)). He is accused of stealing retirement payments from the Teachers’ Retirement System of Georgia (TRS).

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.

RICO carries a minimum of five and a maximum of 20 years in prison and a fine up to three times the amount of money stolen.

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

Members of the public should keep in mind that indictments contain only allegations against the individual(s) against whom the indictment is sought. A defendant is presumed innocent until proven guilty, and it will be the government’s burden at trial to prove the defendant guilty beyond a reasonable doubt of the allegations contained in the indictment.