- Associated Press - Saturday, December 5, 2015

CASSOPOLIS, Mich. (AP) - A former southwestern Michigan township employee has avoided jail after pleading guilty to embezzling roughly $28,000.

The Herald-Palladium and South Bend Tribune report Christine Mahar was ordered Friday to pay restitution, fines and costs after pleading guilty to embezzling from Cass County’s Howard Township. She also was sentenced to three years’ probation.

Authorities say the embezzlement took place between January 2013 and August, when it was discovered and she was fired. The money was intended for tax payments, rentals and other purposes.

Mahar apologized and expressed remorse, and her attorney called it a “crime of desperation” after her husband lost his job.

Prosecutor Victor Fitz and other officials say she violated the public trust and deserves jail. Circuit Judge Michael Dodge says he understands but contends restitution is more important.

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