Jury Acquits Ex-Bank Officer of Grand Theft

A former bank officer was acquitted Monday of stealing more than $2 million from bank accounts of a philanthropic organization that raises money from major corporations to provide grants to colleges in the United States and Israel.

The Los Angeles Superior Court jury, which began deliberating April 7, found James Kirk Barry, 51, of Los Angeles, not guilty of 14 counts of grand theft.

A second defendant, James Dean McCollum Sr., 53, however, was convicted of two counts of grand theft involving $200,000 taken from certificates of deposit that the Fund for Higher Education had purchased at offices of the Bank of America and the Bank of Beverly Hills.

The jury, which acquitted McCollum of 14 grand theft counts and one forgery count, is still deliberating one more forgery count against him. He is serving a 3 1/2-year federal sentence in connection with a nationwide mail fraud scheme.


Most of the charges involved money taken over a five-year period from Fund for Higher Education CDs purchased at the State Savings & Loan Assn. (now American Savings & Loan Assn.) branch in Santa Monica. Barry was an employee of the bank.

Barry’s attorney, Mark J. Geragos, said after the verdict, “We had no doubt that he would be acquitted. They had the wrong guy in his seat.”