By Associated Press - Wednesday, February 17, 2016

HARRISBURG, Pa. (AP) - A former county conservation district employee in northeastern Pennsylvania has been sentenced to a year in prison for what authorities said was the embezzlement of more than $450,000.

Fifty-four-year-old Virginia Kunigonis of Pottsville, who worked for the Schuylkill County Conservation District, was sentenced Wednesday in federal court on a conviction of theft from programs receiving federal funds. reports that Kunigonis sobbed as she apologized and told the judge that she can never repay what she took. She said “I am a felon. How can I look at myself without shame and sorrow?”

Defense attorney Frederick Fanelli argued against jail time, saying his client had severe psychiatric problems and used “very poor judgment,” but U.S. District Judge William Caldwell said the magnitude of the thefts merited incarceration.

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