New loan-scheme allegations against metro Atlanta councilwoman

Hapeville City Councilwoman Ruth Barr fleeced tax clients out of hundreds of thousands of dollars, was indicted for stealing from a relative and is under criminal investigation for possibly cheating the state out of millions in revenue through her tax preparation business.

May 3, 2016 Hapeville: Hapeville City Councilwoman Ruth Barr during a council planning session Tuesday evening May 3, 2016. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com
May 3, 2016 Hapeville: Hapeville City Councilwoman Ruth Barr during a council planning session Tuesday evening May 3, 2016. Ben Gray / bgray@ajc.com

Credit: Brad Schrade

Credit: Brad Schrade

But new allegations by one of her tax clients reveals another layer of her alleged scheme. Kerry Dusek said he loaned Barr more than $36,000 to help keep her tax preparation business operating and she has refused to repay him or even return his calls.

A few years ago, Dusek said, he started loaning Barr money off his credit cards. She would swipe the cards at her business, B & B Accounting and Tax Service, and use the funds to help her out of financial trouble.

The loans were like a line of credit to help keep her business operating through tax season before a windfall of payments came in from thousands of clients. Barr always repaid Dusek by the end of March, with a few extra thousand dollars as a fee for loaning the money.

But this year, after taking thousands in loans from Dusek, Barr refused to pay him back, he said. The East Point resident said he is stuck with hefty credit card bills that have pushed him to the brink of financial ruin.

The monthly interest payments alone exceed $700, he said. He's had to see a doctor to prescribe calming medication to deal with the stress. Dusek said he's so desperate that he confronted Barr outside a recent city council meeting to demand repayment.


Credit: Brad Schrade

"I don't know what I'm going to do," Dusek said. "I'm freaking out because I don't know how much longer I can keep it up....I'm suffering. She won't call me."

Barr did not return a phone call from the AJC seeking comment, left with her lawyer and a family member this week.

An AJC/Channel 2 Action News investigation in May revealed how Barr for years has taken advantage of tax clients or others through bogus investments or other schemes.

She is facing trial in October in Gwinnett County for allegedly stealing more than $100,000 from a dying relative. She also preyed on public safety workers in her tax preparation business. They and thousands of other clients could face penalties as the state Department of Revenue investigates allegations that Barr prepared bogus tax returns to inflate client refunds.

Dusek saw and read the news reports earlier this year, including the May raid of Barr's tax office by state investigators, but by that point it was too late. He was already covered in hefty credit card bills and Barr disappeared and wouldn't pay.

He said he thought he could trust someone so well-known in the community who was "my tax accountant." But Barr is not, in fact, a certified accountant. In Georgia and most other states, anyone can set up shop and prepare taxes with little to no oversight by the state.

"I was stupid and I wasn't thinking and I was trying to help her out," Dusek said. "It's a scam. The whole thing is a scam."

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