Probation for former fire official
Sandra Yilek, the former North San Juan Fire Protection District board member who became a paid member of the fire district while serving on its board, pleaded no contest Tuesday to a misdemeanor charge of violating the state’s government code.
Per the terms of her plea agreement, Yilek was given three years’ probation, ordered to pay $15,000 to the California State Water Resources Control Board, and must serve 300 hours of community service.
Yilek had been working as the fire board’s project director overseeing a grant given to the fire district by the state board through Proposition 204, the “Safe Clean Reliable Water Supply Act,” passed by California voters in 1996.
The state’s government code barred Yilek from serving on the fire board while serving as administrator for a grant given to the board. Sandra Yilek’s husband, Ed, was hired in 2000 to administer the money. When he died later that year, Sandra Yilek was appointed to take her late husband’s job.
She said Tuesday in Nevada County Superior Court that she was never told she couldn’t serve as administrator of the grant while serving on the board.
“There’s no way I would have served had I known,” Yilek said Tuesday after accepting the terms of her plea. She said she was given assurances by the fire board that she could serve without conflict.
Yilek served on the fire board from 1994 to 2002, resigning after the conflict was discovered.
According to the court documents, Yilek received $10,009.38 in 2001, $11,990.25 in 2002, and $6,781.96 in 2003.
“My total focus was on carrying out my husband’s work,” she said.
North San Juan fire officials also have defended Yilek, saying the violation of state code was an accident and that she did not try to embezzle any money.
For critics of the North San Juan fire board, Yilek’s criminal charge illustrated poor practices by the panel.
Maureen Detoy has spent years pushing for investigations of the fire district and said the board has been unresponsive to criticism of its use of the grant money.
“I want a fire district that is upfront and honest with the public as to what is going on,” Detoy said, “and this district has not been.”
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