A former manager at Alu Like Inc. is serving a year in prison after a state judge said she violated her position of trust and jeopardized the nonprofit's future.
In sentencing hearing today, Circuit Judge Randal Lee also fined Candice Napuelua $2,000 and ordered her to pay restitution after she pleaded no-contest the charges she stole $6,000 from her former employer.
"Your actions hurt a number of Hawaiians who are still suffering and need the help," Lee said. "You actually jeopardized Alu Like's future survival."
The sentence was double the six-month jail term sought by prosecutors, who alleged that Napuelua used Alu Like's funds like her "own personal bank account."
Alu Like, which was founded nearly 40 years ago, provides job training, early childhood development and elderly support services for disadvantaged Hawaiians.
Napuela worked as a director at Alu Like, where she was in charge of eligibility for many of the nonprofit's programs.
Prosecutors say Napuelua filled out phony applications to award money to friends and relatives and stonewalled police during their investigation.
"What she did is ... distribute four checks, $1,500 each, to family and friends," said Deputy Prosecutor Kurt Nakamatsu."She circumvented the normal procedures for vetting these client applications by not filling out these forms completely or by providing false information."
Napuelua sought for a deferral of her no-contest plea, which would have allowed her to avoid prison.
Her attorney Henry Ting conceded that the correct procedures for disbursing Alu Like's funds were not correctly followed but that money was used for legitimate purposes.
She added that she had approval from the nonprofit's controller and from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, which provides much of Alu Like's funding. Both organizations told police that no such approval was given.
"We could have worked this out," Napuelua said."We could have easily talked about it and worked it out. But I wasn't given that opportunity. I was just called one day and told you're fired."
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