Nov. 13, 2012
Monica Lara, OVN correspondent
The Ojai woman who is accused of embezzling more than $35,000 from the Ojai Eagles Youth Football League pleaded not guilty at her arraignment Tuesday in Ventura County Superior Court.
Amber Workman, 37, faces from 16 months to three years in jail if convicted of felony grand theft , according to defense attorney Richard Hanawalt.
An early disposition conference (EDC) was scheduled for Jan. 9.
“The next logical step would be the preliminary hearing, but the EDC is a lily pad stop before we get to that point,” said Hanawalt.
At the EDC, Hanawalt and the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office could negotiate numerous details of the case, including a possible settlement agreement.
If the counsels agree to move toward a trial by jury, the preliminary examination would be held to determine if there is enough evidence for Workman to go to trial. At that time, the prosecution would have to prove there is sufficient evidence that there was a crime committed and that Workman could have committed it.
The Ojai Eagles Youth Football League is a nonprofit organization supported by membership dues, donations and fundraising efforts. Workman was the organization’s volunteer treasurer from January 2007 to December 2009.
The Eagles organizers took the case to the Ventura County Sheriff’s Office after the state of California notified the organization in 2010 that its tax-exempt status was revoked due to failure to file taxes during Workman’s time as treasurer.
Workman was arrested in June, after an investigation by the sheriff’s office determined that she had taken money from the Eagles for personal use.
Workman denied all allegations relating to the charges at Thursday’s arraignment, along with entering her not-guilty plea.
She was also served with a restraining order, filed by an Ojai family. Such orders are not uncommon in embezzlement cases, according to Hanawalt.
“In this case it’s different because Ojai is so small and the youth activities are well known,” said Hanawalt.
An attorney from the Ventura County District Attorney’s Office could not be reached for comment because the case has not yet been assigned. The case is expected to be assigned to an attorney Wednesday.