Local News

Tuesday, Apr 29 2014 11:55 AM

Former treasurer who stole from nonprofit sentenced to 960 hours community service

  1. 1 of 3

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Amy Christine Powers is sentenced Tuesday for using a Bakersfield Police Benefit Association credit card to make thousands of dollars of personal purchases.

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  2. 2 of 3

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Amy Christine Powers is sentenced Tuesday for using a Bakersfield Police Benefit Association credit card to make thousands of dollars of personal purchases.

    click to expand click to collapse
  3. 3 of 3

    By Henry A. Barrios / The Californian

    Attorney Greg Pulskamp prosecuted the case against Amy Christine Powers, who was sentenced Tuesday for using a Bakersfield Police Benefit Association credit card to make thousands of dollars of personal purchases.

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BY JASON KOTOWSKI Californian staff writer jkotowski@bakersfield.com

She avoided jail time after embezzling more than $40,000 from a Bakersfield nonprofit, but Amy Christine Powers will pay for her crime not only through restitution but with almost a thousand hours of community service.

Powers was sentenced Tuesday to three years' probation, 960 hours of community service and restitution of $43,168.14 to the Bakersfield Police Benefit Association, of which she was the former treasurer. Judge Steven M. Katz declined to sentence her to jail because she had no previous criminal record and accepted a plea deal.

Prosecutor Greg Pulskamp said he'd have preferred Powers serve some time in custody, but Katz had indicated what his ruling would be a month ago when the plea deal was struck. He said Powers had faced as much as a year in jail, but likely would have served far less than that due to lack of space for first-time, nonviolent offenders.

As to whether she's expressed remorse, Pulskamp said, "Not to my satisfaction, and certainly not to the satisfaction of the Benefit Association." He noted, however, that she has accepted responsibility for her actions.

Seth O'Dell, Powers' attorney, declined comment following sentencing.

Powers stole money from the association from January 2008 to early 2013. The nonprofit's activities include crime prevention and an annual run to raise college tuition funds for the children of officers killed in the line of duty.

As treasurer, Powers was given a VISA credit card for business purchases. But Kern County sheriff's investigators say she also used the card for personal trips and meals at restaurants, as well as jewelry and clothing.

Reimbursements went into her personal account for truck repairs and work on her horse trailer, investigators said. She even stole change from the association's vending machines.

Powers told detectives she must have mistaken the association's credit card with one of her personal cards, but then admitted her credit cards looked nothing like the association's card.

She next told detectives she'd been dating a married man who'd given her an unlimited credit card, according to investigators' reports. She said she must have mistaken the association card for her unlimited card.

Detectives asked to see the card. She said she'd given it back to the man. They asked for the man's name. She refused to identify him, saying he'd deny the relationship to avoid getting in trouble over the affair.

In the end, she admitted responsibility and pleaded no contest to one count of grand theft by embezzlement. Two identical counts were dismissed.

Powers now lives out of state.

The investigation into her began in 2012 after a Police Benefit Association election brought in a new treasurer who noticed discrepancies in its records.

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