Former Grand Beginnings director pleads guilty in deferred sentence plea deal |

Former Grand Beginnings director pleads guilty in deferred sentence plea deal

Tonya Bina
Sky-Hi Daily News

A former executive director of the childcare nonprofit organization Grand Beginnings pleaded guilty to one count of class 4 felony theft in District Court on Monday, accepting a plea deal that would defer her eventual sentence on that count for three years.

By also accepting a guilty plea for a class 2 misdemeanor theft alongside the deferred felony theft charge, Stern could be subject to paying a total of $6,063 in restitution to be paid off in one year and dispersed to Grand Beginnings. The plea also includes supervised probation, 100 hours of public service, a $1,000 contribution to Grand Futures, plus Sheriff’s Office and court fees.

These charges also keep her records from ever being sealed, according to Deputy District Attorney Heather Shwayder-Hughes.

Stern was accused last November of twice misappropriating Grand Beginnings funds in 2007 and 2008 and cashing a rebate check belonging to the organization valued at $500 to $1,000. The defense proved beyond reasonable doubt that at least $6,000 had gone missing under Stern’s supervision while working for Grand Beginnings.

She was charged with two felony counts of theft and one misdemeanor theft charge for unauthorized pay, use of bank funds and unauthorized use of debit cards while employed at Grand Beginnings.

The official sentencing by Judge Mary Hoak has been set for 1 p.m. on June 22.

Stern, who was present at the arraignment, could face up to 90 days in jail at the time of the sentencing.

The Class II misdemeanor carries with it a maximum penalty of 12 months in county jail, a $1,000 fine, or both. The Class 4 Felony carries with it a maximum two to six years in the Department of Corrections and three years mandatory parole.

Stern, who now resides in Pennsylvania, had no other criminal history, according to information at the proceeding.

A new Grand Beginnings executive director, Sheryl Shushan, was hired in June 2009. She said the situation did not cripple the efforts of the organization, which supports early learning, provides parent support and is the go-to place for early childhood education – including a program that provides childcare tuition assistance – and social and emotional development and health.

Grand Beginnings officials scheduled a formal audit of the Grand Beginnings financial books for the fall of 2010.

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