No prison for former DeSoto DA clerk who stole $130,000+

No prison for former DeSoto DA clerk who stole $130,000+

SHREVEPORT, LA (KSLA) - At one point, she faced 20 and 50 years in federal prison for stealing more than $130,000 from the DeSoto district attorney's office.

During her sentencing, federal guidelines and the U.S. attorney prosecuting 36-year-old Melanie Barber suggested she spend at least 15 months behind bars.

In the end, unless the Converse woman violates the terms her probation, she will not spend a single day locked up.

"You're getting a huge break here, Mrs. Barber," U.S. District Judge Elizabeth Foote said after sentencing the former clerk to serve five years on probation.

Barber pleaded guilty in March to one count of mail fraud for stealing 580 money orders totaling $136,004 over 10 years.

"The best way I can explain it is to say that it became like an addiction," she said during her sentencing. "I am truly sorry."

Barber, who now works part time for a title company, and her attorney Richard Wolbert pleaded for mercy during the sentencing hearing.

Wolbert told the judge that his client's crimes started during a time of extreme stress, following the murder of her parents in 2003.

"I never took into account the effect my action could have on my husband and children," Barber told the court.

First Assistant U.S. Attorney Mike O'Mara objected to Barber avoiding prison time, saying that she abused the trust placed in her as a public servant and that she stole from the government for a decade.

Foote ruled that a prison sentence would serve no purpose as there was no likelihood Barber would repeat her crime.

In addition to probation, Barber will have to start making restitution of $200 a month beginning in August.

Those payments will balloon to $2,000 a month once she and her husband emerge from bankruptcy.

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