The Altoona man who spent more than $150,000 credited to his bank account in 2007 said he is ''angry'' and "beside himself'' because civil and criminal charges against him are keeping him from getting a job.
In October 2007, $280,276 was deposited in Herbert Starbird's First Commonwealth Bank account. Starbird, 57, of 906 25th Ave. claims he had his wife contact the bank, only to be told it was the couple's money.
In court papers, the bank has denied the couple reported the mistaken deposit.
The retired health physicist from the National Institutes of Health said he would like to re-enter the work force because he knows he may have to pay back what he spent.
''I didn't willingly try to spend all the money, or they wouldn't have almost half of it back,'' he said. ''I don't understand why they want to make life difficult. ... I don't know why they don't want me to work.''
He said it's a scary thing to find out your checking account has a surprise $280,000 in it.
''When it happens, you don't know what to do or who to talk to,'' he said.
Starbird said he began to believe the money was his, because his father-in-law and brother recently sold their homes for large sums of money.
He said he then started to spend it, working through $157,206.
''I paid every bill I owed. I took care of my kids, my family and everything. I wasn't extravagant,'' he said.
The bank discovered the error a year ago and immediately froze the account. Starbird said the bank offered him two payback schemes, but both jeopardized his home, and he rejected them.
Starbird said he received a notice to attend a Feb. 2 status conference at the Blair County Courthouse, only to find out after sitting in the courtroom all day that he didn't need to be there.
As the justice process creeps along, Starbird is becoming more frustrated.
One of the duties he is qualified to perform is to oversee the handling of nuclear material when power plants are shut down for maintenance.
He said he could get a seven-week job this month that would pay well, but he said he will not be welcomed back into his profession with criminal charges hanging over his head.
Starbird's Altoona attorney, Thomas M. Dickey, said he is actively working on a solution.
''I'm in the process of trying to work out some type of resolution of the criminal charges,'' he said Thursday.
Mirror Staff Writer Phil Ray is at 946-7468.