A former assistant U.S. attorney pleaded guilty Thursday to stealing more than $6,500 from the federal government by falsifying her time cards.
Barbara Zoccola, 58, of Memphis admitted she intentionally misreported her time at work on several occasions between June 12, 2018 and June 11, 2019. Her charges state Zoccola failed to report 9 hours of leave time she took on Oct. 16, 18, 23 and 25 of 2018, just one example of multiple falsified certifications.
The leave time she illegally accrued is valued between $6,500 and $15,000.
As part of her plea deal, Zoccola resigned from her position and will pay $10,000 in restitution. She faces up to one year in prison with up to one year of supervised release, and may be fined up to $100,000.
The Department of Justice filed charges against Zoccola in October after the Office of Inspector General investigated her time and attendance records. District Court Judge William L. Campbell, Jr. of the Middle District of Tennessee presided over the "unorthodox" hearing in Jackson Thursday due to Zoccola's connections to federal prosecutors in Memphis, he said.

Zoccola served as an assistant United States attorney for the Western District of Tennessee coordinating its financial litigation unit since 1991, according to her resume. She received an award for outstanding work in the unit in 2013. She is also a past president of the Memphis Bar Association and Memphis Bar Foundation.
She began her second three-year term as president of the Tennessee Board of Law Examiners on January 1, 2017. Her term was meant to end on Dec. 31, but a representative said Thursday that the board's current president is William Harbison, who formerly served as vice president under Zoccola. The representative could not confirm if or when Zoccola resigned her position.
Zoccola's involvement in the Tennessee legal community stretches back decades, including terms of service as president of the Association for Women Attorneys and the Tennessee Lawyers Association for Women. She's received mutliple legal accolades over her career, which specialized in bankruptcy law. She is also known for her support of a Memphis Youth Court in the mid-1990s and her appearance as a proctor for the bar exam in the 1993 film, "The Firm." 
Zoccola appeared in court with casts covering both of her feet, extending up to her knees. She sat at the defense council's table for the duration of the hearing, with a yellow legal pad resting on the table in front of her. She kept her hands folded in her lap, and kept her answers to Campbell's questions short. 
Zoccola's attorney Leslie Ballin said she preferred to be sentenced in Jackson so she would not have to face her former colleagues in Memphis.

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"It goes without saying she is totally embarrassed by her conduct," Ballin told Campbell.
Ballin declined further comment.
Zoccola will return to Jackson to be sentenced on March 5 at 10:30 a.m.
Reach Cassandra Stephenson at or at (731) 694-7261.