Valley Embezzlement Case Has Ended in a Plea Deal

June 18, 2008 9:27:17 PM PDT
The second trial for defendants, Elaine Bernard and Carol Dela Torre had already begun this week but today the sisters agreed to a settlement that will keep them out of state prison.Doug Foster, defense attorney: "She was just anxious to avoid the humiliation and the length and the toll that a trial like that would take. She's very humbled. She's very thankful."

The settlement was a 'package offer' that both defendants had to agree to. Bernard pled no contest to two felony counts of grand theft and tax evasion. De la torre pled no contest to a misdemeanor count of grand theft.

Scott Quinlan, Dela Torre attorney: "Carol's no-contest plea was in part consideration for her sister."

Bernard also agreed to pay 100-thousand dollars in restitution to Genesis, in addition to 134-thousand she has already paid. The two women were initially accused of embezzling about 500-thousand dollars from the group homes.

Jon Skiles, assistant district attorney : "I think it's a good thing for all parties involved that allows us to move on to other cases hopefully allocate our resources so that we're not spending taxpayer money if we're able to resolve it."

The district attorney's office is not releasing exactly how much money was spent prosecuting this case... which began in January of 2002 when investigators with the DA's office raided Genesis Group Homes and offices--taking several boxes of evidence and hundreds of documents. The case finally went before a jury in 2007, but ended in a mistrial.

Tony Capozzi, ABC-30 legal analyst: "To have gone through that trial, although it was long, I think it was important for the district attorney to do that. Although I think it was wise on behalf of the district attorney to settle this case and resolve it and get it over with."

Bernard and Dela Torre will maintain their positions at Genesis as C-E-O and clinical director for now, but they could eventually lose their licenses.

Foster: "There may be ways to resolve that that would allow her to continue her duties as CEO but right now we are preparing for the worst."

Bernard and Dela Torre will not go to state prison but they may still be sentenced to time in the Fresno county jail. The judge will make that decision on August 4th.


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