A convicted felon accused of embezzling more than $400,000 while employed at an addiction treatment center in Rancho Mirage is scheduled to be arraigned Friday on felony and misdemeanor charges.
Kelly Michelle Barnes, 42, was arrested Monday at a home in the 81000 block of Iris Court in Indio and booked at the Benoit Detention Center in Indio, where she’s being held in lieu of $400,000 bail.
A warrant was issued for her arrest last week in connection with charges filed by the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office involving alleged fraud that occurred while she was employed by Dr. Harry Haroutunian between September 2018 and March of this year.
Barnes is charged with one count of embezzlement by an employee and three counts of making false entries in records, all felonies, along with three misdemeanor forgery counts.
The defendant has prior forgery and embezzlement convictions, and is currently awaiting trial on a separate fraud case involving crimes allegedly committed in 2015, according to court records.
Haroutunian, who has authored several books on addiction treatment, operates offices in both Rancho Mirage and Beverly Hills and has appeared on various programs, including the Dr. Oz Show, Dr. Drew on Call and the Dr. Phil show, according to his personal website.
A declaration in support of an arrest warrant prepared by Riverside County sheriff’s Investigator Jomar Vanderhoof alleges Barnes forged Haroutunian’s signatures on several checks that were made out to her, for a total of $419,936.
Investigators allege she cashed some of the checks using her personal bank account, and transferred the money to a PayPal account associated with her husband’s butane honey oil business.
Sheriff’s deputies served a search warrant in March at her home on Iris Court, where an illegal honey oil operation was discovered, along with unspecified evidence allegedly linking her to fraud, authorities said.
Barnes was charged with child endangerment at that time, and is currently awaiting trial on that case.
According to court records, Barnes was additionally charged last year with 51 felony and misdemeanor counts that include various forgery and identity theft. The alleged fraudulent activity in that case dates back to 2015, although charges were not filed until July 2019.
Barnes has documented felony convictions in Riverside County for forgery, embezzlement, identify theft, grand theft over $950 and theft by false pretenses, court records show.
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