By Terri Hill | November 5, 2018
Authorities allege that the former executive director of the Parkinson Foundation of Western Pennsylvania admitted to stealing over $14,000 of Foundation funds and repaid that amount with a certified check, but actually stole close to $28,000 from the agency.
In a criminal complaint filed Monday morning a detective with the Allegheny County District Attorney’s Office alleged that Barbara Farrell, 58, of Pittsburgh, admitted during a Feb, 22 interview that she stole $14,380.11 in Foundation funds by submitting fraudulent invoices because she was addicted to pain killers.
Ferrell’s attorney told Foundation officials that “Farrell had been addicted to pain medication that she had used after her surgeries and provided paperwork from Gateway Rehab showing that she had been admitted to their rehab program. He provided board members with a certified check for $14,380.11 to repay what she believed was the amount of the Brown invoices,” the complaint reads.
However, according to an investigation conducted by the Foundation and a private forensic accountant, Farrell had taken an additional $14,000 from the agency.
A large portion of the money went to a woman identified in the complaint as Taylor Brown, who Farrell said she met while she was a patient at Gateway Rehab. Brown assisted with housekeeping chores, running errands, driving Farrell to appointments and babysitting her children, Farrell told investigators.
Farrell told Foundation employees that Brown was a Foundation employee who worked remotely monitoring another employee’s activity. Yet, according to the complaint, a Foundation employee said that there had been no remote logins on the Foundation’s computer system during the time that Brown allegedly was doing work.
When asked by Foundation employees about the invoices she submitted to pay Brown with, Farrell “immediately got defensive,” the complaint said. “She explained Brown was doing shadowing work remotely on the Parkinson’s Foundation software, Donor Pro.”
In a June 22 telephone call Brown’s father told investigators that Brown “cleaned Farrell’s house and also babysat her children. To his knowledge, his daughter did not work for the Parkinson Foundation,” according to the complaint.
Authorities alleged that Farrell obtained some of the money she stole by submitting fraudulent invoices from guest speakers that never spoke at any Foundation function and for trips that she never took.
Farrell also purchased over $9,000 in electronics, women’s clothing, furniture, books, and other items from Amazon that were shipped to her home using a Foundation credit card. She also allegedly ordered over $1,000 in flowers for her home using money from the Foundation.
She surrendered to authorities on Monday and was released on a non-monetary bond and ordered to appear for a preliminary hearing on Nov. 29.
Terri Hill can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org