Pleasant Valley school embezzle suspect takes plea agreement
A Penn Valley woman who reportedly embezzled funds while serving as president of the Pleasant Valley Elementary School District Parent Club — and who subsequently fled the state — has taken a plea agreement that will net her a potential four-year prison sentence.
That agreement comes after Huni previously rejected offers that would have sent her to jail for a year.
That time would be split, however, with 20 to 24 months served locally in county jail, followed by post-release community supervision.
Michele Renee Huni was initially arrested in March 2014, after members of the parent club reportedly realized the theft of about $11,000 from the group’s account. Huni allegedly spent the money on a cell phone, groceries and other purchases.
Huni had taken a plea agreement in March 2015 in return for a potential 365 days in jail and five years of supervised probation. She failed to report to the probation department for a presentence report and was remanded into custody, and her sentencing was postponed.
In June 2015, Huni withdrew her plea in a dispute over alternative sentencing, then failed to appear for a pre-trial conference or for her next hearing. She subsequently was arrested in Oregon and charged with a felony count of failing to appear while on bail.
Huni was then offered a three-year, eight-month deal if she pleaded to felony embezzlement, welfare fraud and the failure to appear. After serving 90 days and paying back $10,000, Huni’s sentence would have been reduced to one year in county jail and then three years’ post-release community supervision.
She refused that offer and her attorney, Greg Klein, successfully moved to be relieved as her counsel. He was replaced by court-appointed attorney David Alkire.
After a trial in July, Huni was found guilty of absconding after she fled the state, with an potential enhancement for failing to appear while out on bail for a felony.
She was set to go to trial on the embezzlement charges on Tuesday. But on Friday, she opted instead to plead no contest to grand theft by embezzlement, welfare fraud and perjury for aid. Her plea was entered as a “West plea,” meaning she was not admitting to the charges, and includes the sentence for the absconding conviction.
Huni will be required to serve 20 to 24 months of her prison term locally before being released under supervision.
Sentencing was set for Sept. 9 and a restitution hearing was scheduled for Sept. 30.
To contact City Editor Liz Kellar, email firstname.lastname@example.org or call 530-477-4229.
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