- Associated Press - Monday, March 7, 2016

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) - A Maui woman who stole more than $24,000 from a nonprofit organization that helps students become interested in science, engineering and math has avoided jail time.

Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza ordered 50-year-old Theresa Nunan, of Kihei, Thursday to perform 100 hours of community service. Cardoza had followed a plea agreement in sentencing Nunan that also allows her to keep a first-degree theft conviction off her record if she adheres to court requirements for five years, The Maui News reported (https://bit.ly/1nqo6Dv).

Court records say Nunan had volunteered as a treasurer for the Hawaii Society of Professional Engineers when she stole $24,440 from the organization. The theft occurred from October 2012 to March 2014.

Deputy Prosecutor Justine Hura argued that Nunan stole money from kids who were being helped by the organization to pay for her own children’s college tuition.

“This was a selfish crime,” Hura said. “It was her choosing her needs over the money that did not belong to her.”

Cary Virtue, Nunan’s attorney, had argued that his client was self-employed and basically bankrupt at the time of the offense. He said Nunan had no previous record and was remorseful for her actions.

“Her friends are shocked she did this,” Virtue said. “She’s a hard worker. She’s an honest person. She’s trustworthy.”

Nunan apologized in court Thursday and said she continues “to care for the students any way I can.”

“What I did, it was for personal survival. When it happened, I really tried to make sure no one would get hurt … no students would not get their scholarship money and no person who relied on HSPE would not be paid,” she said. “It doesn’t excuse what I did.”

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Information from: The Maui News, https://www.mauinews.com

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