Trial begins for mom who stole $55K from Sonoma Co. High school Grad Event

COTATI, California (KGO) -- When Mary Katherine David pleaded not guilty in Sonoma County Superior Court on Monday, more than a few friends looked on - though those relationships are on hold right now.

The trouble began last week, when Rohnert Park police arrested the 37-year-old mother of two for embezzling $55,000 from Cotati-Rohnert Park's Project Grad.

Since 1989, it has funded some 300 seniors from five high schools, helping them stay out of trouble on graduation night at an elaborate party. But now, the money is gone.

"Her statement was she had a shopping addiction and needed assistance paying bills," explained Sgt. Jeff Justice with the Rohnert Park police.

Justice said David did express regret. So much so, that in court, David's attorney produced a $10,000 check, raised by her family to begin restitution.

The judge turned it down and imposed a bail of $100,000, based partly on a previous embezzlement conviction 17 years ago.

"This $10,000 made payable to Project Guardian is going to a bail bondsman. Not going to Project Grad," said Donald Edgar, the defense attorney.

For now, the community hopes to make up the lost money. The police department plans a pancake breakfast on May 13. A GoFundMe page has also be set up.

One of the graduating seniors, who had planned to attend, is Mary Katherine David's daughter, the student body vice president.
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