Judge Found Genesis CEO Elaine Bernard Violated Her Probation

April 20, 2009 10:31:10 AM PDT
A judge found Elaine Bernard violated her probation by attending local parties. Bernard was convicted last year of stealing thousands from a local nonprofit. Bernard's attorney said the CEO had a duty to represent Genesis group homes. Bernard's troubles started with a picture. A published photograph shows Bernard at a downtown reception in March. The issue is: Was Elaine socializing or conducting business? At a probation hearing Thursday, Defense Attorney Doug Foster said Bernard was not thumbing her nose at the law. Foster said, "Ms. Bernard did not understand that she was not permitted to travel within the course and scope of duties as CEO. That she was forced to confine herself to a single office."

Last year, Judge John Vogt convicted Bernard of stealing from Genesis Group Homes the non-profit co-founded by Bernard. But the judge placed Bernard on probation ordering her not to attend social events. On Thursday witnesses testified they also saw Bernard at a North Fresno law firm during a Saint Patrick's Day party. The judge says the picture alone shows Bernard trying to deceive probation. Judge Vogt said, "Instead of dutifully applying herself to redemptive efforts, Ms. Bernard has systematically schemed and avoiding even the most modest restrictions on her liberty."

The same judge will sentence Bernard in two weeks. Her harshest punishment could be time in prison.

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