A 64-year-old California woman has pleaded guilty to embezzling $709,084 from a high school in Orange County. After entering the guilty plea, she was sentenced to 14 years in state prison for 222 counts of felony embezzlement and misappropriation of money by a public officer. The woman’s sentence was enhanced by a charge for aggravated white collar crime over $500,000.

According to prosecutors, the accused woman misappropriated money from the Associated Student Body at Esperanza High School in Anaheim while she was employed there as a student finance clerk. The woman began working for the school district in 1998, and the alleged embezzlement took place during the five years that preceded the woman’s retirement in 2017. An audit of the school district uncovered the missing funds.

The school district claims that the ASB funds in question originated from student fundraising campaigns for various student clubs and school activities. Anaheim police say that the accused woman was able to take the ASB money by writing checks to her husband, her late mother and herself. The school district has since developed new procedures for keeping track of ASB funds.

What to do when accusations are false

A person who is placed in charge of a large institution’s finances could be falsely accused of embezzlement if there were misunderstandings about accounting methods. A criminal defense attorney may be able to help a person in this situation to prove that they did not knowingly and intentionally misappropriate company funds. Often, a lawyer may begin helping an accused person to build a defense against embezzlement charges months before criminal charges are actually filed.