MACHIAS, Maine — Calling former Pleasant Point police chief Joseph Barnes’ behavior “a stunning betrayal,” Justice Allen Hunter sentenced him on Thursday to nine months in jail.
Barnes, 42, pleaded guilty in April — sobbing through most of the proceeding — to stealing more than $33,000 from the Passamaquoddy Tribe to fuel a gambling habit mostly at casinos in Connecticut and Louisiana. Barnes’ sentencing was postponed until Thursday because of his tenuous emotional state.
Barnes took the money from various tribal accounts between April 2007 and May 2008, according to court documents.
In April, Assistant Attorney General Leanne Robbin said Barnes avoided tribal and U.S. Department of Interior investigations for months.
Robbin explained that Barnes, who was an honored and decorated police chief, began funneling thousands of dollars into a so-called soda account, and then “frittered it all away” at Foxwoods Casino in Connecticut and another casino in Marksville, La.
Robbin said Barnes refused to answer questions when the tribe’s chief financial officer discovered that thousands of dollars were suddenly being deposited in the soda account that was being supported by a single vending machine in the police station.
Those deposits then were being withdrawn by Barnes, either through automatic teller machines at casinos or checks written out to cash.
After being confronted in May 2009, Barnes resigned as the police chief and did not provide tribal leaders with an exit interview.
In Washington County Superior Court on Thursday, Justice Hunter also ordered Barnes to pay back all the funds he stole from the tribe as well as the tribe’s attorney’s fees. The final amount was approximately $42,000.
Court personnel said a large group of Barnes’ supporters were on hand in the courtroom, reportedly hoping the judge would be lenient.