A Mannsville embezzlement case has come to a close with former town treasurer, Shonda Lou Barnes, pleading no contest to three charges and accepting a plea bargain Tuesday afternoon.
District Attorney Craig Ladd said Barnes accepted a seven-year deferred sentence, with a $500 fine plus court costs on each of her three remaining felony counts of embezzlement of state money. Barnes is also required to pay restitution amounting to $722.47 within six months.
The offer allows Barnes to maintain her current position as a city official without supervision and prevents her from being a convicted felon, said Barnes’ attorney, Jason May.
“We felt like there was a very good chance that we would get a not guilty verdict if we went to trial, but you can never guarantee what a jury verdict is going to be,” May said. “We felt like we didn’t really have a whole lot to gain and we had a lot to lose if we went to trial.”
With the plea bargain, Barnes has immunity from any other claim prior to Sept. 24, May said. Barnes currently serves on the Mannsville City Council following the town’s last election.
Ladd formally filed multiple embezzlement charges against the defendant after an investigation into an allegation from August 2014 in which Barnes allegedly knowingly made a false entry into an account related to state funds on behalf of the Town of Mannsville. However, Ladd said this allegation was dismissed based on exculpatory evidence negating the defendant’s guilt.

The three remaining charges, alleging that Barnes received profit for personal use in her position as town Treasurer, stemmed from a 130-page, three-year audit conducted by Oklahoma State Auditor and Inspector Gary Jones as a part of the investigation.

The allegations were that Barnes withdrew $254.54 from the Mannsville Public Works Authority bank account with Landmark Bank for personal use and received two different checks in the amount of $201.22 and $266.71 for selling scrap metal belonging to the Town of Mannsville.

However, Ladd said he is happy with the results of the case. “Because she’d never been in trouble before, I felt that a seven-year deferred sentence for her to pay back the money was an appropriate result given that she waived her rights to a jury and resolved this case in this manner rather than a trial,” he said.

In the event that Barnes takes part in any criminal activity during her seven-year probation, her deferred sentence can be accelerated, with a potential of up to 20 years in prison, Ladd said.

May said the no contest plea is not an admission of guilt and the defendant still maintains that she is innocent. “We were set for jury trial Monday and everyone, regardless of whether you’re guilty or innocent, gets nervous when you get close to a jury trial just because you never know,” he said.