April 30, 2013
Monica Lara, OVN correspondent
During her hearing at the Ventura County Superior Court Tuesday — the day before her birthday — Ojai’s Amber Workman changed her not guilty plea to no contest in her grand theft felony case.
Equivalent to guilty, the no contest plea puts the responsibility on the court to determine conditions of the conviction. The case will not be taken to a jury trail, but will be reviewed by the probation department and James Cloninger, the superior court judge overseeing the case.
“I’m satisfied,” said Richard Hanawalt, defense attorney. “I believe we have the right judge looking at the material, and it will prove favorably.”
Deputy District Attorney Julia Snyder, who is prosecuting the case, could not be reached for comment.
Workman was charged with embezzling as much as $49,000 from the Ojai Eagles Youth Football League, a nonprofit organization supported by membership dues, donations and fundraising monies. Workman was the organization’s treasurer from January 2007 to December 2009. She was arrested in June 2012.
Hanawalt said the upcoming review will focus on identifying what funds may have been improperly used.
“There will be substantial discussion required to determine what was appropriately spent and what might be in question,” Hanawalt said.
During the review process, Workman and other witnesses are expected to be called for questioning.
Workman is expected to receive the terms of her sentencing June 28, which could include jail time, community service and restitution.
In court Tuesday, Workman’s preliminary hearing was waived after her change in plea. “The prelim added nothing to the operation,” Hanawalt said.
Workman remains free on a $30,000 bond. She has no prior convictions.