Genesis Sentencing Continued

Fresno, CA, USA At times the testimony became emotional ... As they described how the sisters or the group home /*Genesis*/ had touched their lives.

"I'm just here to ask that you be lenient on my family ... "

The defendants /*Elaine Bernard*/ and /*Carol De la Torre*/ wiped tears as they listened to family and friends describe how they had impacted their lives.

"It was their dream they wanted to do this," cried the defendants' mother Frances De la Torre. "I ask you to have mercy on them and to please let them continue to do their work."

The sisters agreed to settle the case two months ago. Bernard pled guilty to two felony counts of grand theft and tax evasion. Dela Torre pled no contest to a misdemeanor count of grand theft.

Today friends and colleagues spoke of their dedication to Genesis, the group home the two founded-- to help troubled and abused children.

Maria Magdaleno, a former Genesis Board Member said, "They put their family lives on hold, their children on hold-- to focus on those children who did not have a voice in this city." Former city councilman and close friend of Bernard's, Ken Steitz-- told the judge of the toll the case has taken on the women. "I have been there day and night-- I have seen the pain and the remorse."

Former Genesis employee Lyn Roberts drove three hours to be at Mondays sentencing ... "Everything I learned was at Genesis from Elaine and Carol and it's true to this day."

As part of the deal-- Bernard and Dela Torre will not have to serve time in prison-- but they could still spend time in jail and lose their licenses.

Patricia Bell, Genesis volunteer: "If they were to spend time in jail and it were to affect the charter of genesis I as a taxpayer were feel that a greater harm is being done in that respect."

Bernard faces a maximum of two years in county jail-- Dela Torre faces a year in jail. The sentencing phase continues Tuesday.


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