Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Former Healdsburg, California soccer leader pleads guilty to embezzlement

The second Healdsburg youth soccer league official in less than three years to be charged with embezzlement pleaded guilty Monday to stealing $51,000 from the organization while she served as acting president and treasurer.

Mitzi Giron, 30, faces up to a year in the Sonoma County jail after admitting three felonies associated with the thefts during an 18-month period ending in January.

Her predecessor, Kyle Hoffman, 40, was sentenced to nine months in jail in August 2011 for stealing $58,000 from the league. Giron helped in the investigation of Hoffman and was present at his sentencing.

Like Hoffman, Giron will have a chance to minimize the amount of time she spends behind bars by paying back a “significant” portion of the stolen money before her Sept. 10 sentencing before Judge Jamie Thistlethwaite, prosecutor Bill Brockley said.

She's already paid about $8,000, he said.

“The amount of restitution will be a factor for her,” Brockley said.

He did not say how much she would have to pay or if she could avoid jail. Giron will not be sent to state prison based on her lack of a prior record, he said.

Police believe Giron started withdrawing money from the league's account using a league debit card about a month before Hoffman's sentencing.

The withdrawals were discovered last November during an internal investigation. Giron was unable to explain the transactions and was removed from her position, Brockley said.

She became the subject of a criminal investigation and turned herself in to authorities in May. She has been free on bail.

On Monday she pleaded guilty to grand theft by an employee, fraudulent use of an access card and possession of stolen property.

Hoffman pleaded no contest to writing more than 70 unauthorized checks from 2008 to 2010. He was ordered to serve nine months in jail after showing up in court with a check for about $12,000.

The league was saved from bankruptcy by donations and sponsorships. It serves 300 girls and boys ages 4-18 in Healdsburg, Geyserville and the Alexander Valley.

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