Ex-Vista Pop Warner treasurer sentenced

Posted at 2:49 PM, May 10, 2016
and last updated 2016-05-10 21:02:09-04

VISTA, Calif. -- A former treasurer for Vista Pop Warner Football and Cheer was sentenced Tuesday for embezzling more than $100,000 from the organization's accounts.

Rachel Marie Owens pleaded guilty in April to five felony counts, including grand theft and identity theft. As part of a plea deal, the 41-year-old Rachel agreed to pay back the $114,395 (by paying $250 per month) she stole from the league her son played in.

Under the plea agreement, Owens must spend 365 days in jail and will be on probation for five years. She will get credit for time served.

RELATED: Team 10: Nearly $100K missing from Vista Pop Warner football program

Deputy District Attorney Anna Winn said $101,000 of that money was embezzled by Owens through league checks. The remaining money was cash from league fundraisers. Winn said Owens deposited the cash directly into her own bank account.

During the execution of a search warrant at Owens' house, Winn said investigators searched for assets that they could sell and return the funds to the league.

"Unfortunately there weren't any assets there. That money was just spent on daily living," the prosecutor said.

Owens' attorney claimed his client was ashamed and remorseful. Peter Liss said she was ready to be held accountable.

Liss told Team 10 Owens stole the money because she was financially "in over her head". He cited the high cost of living in San Diego County, but said that's no excuse for what she did.

RELATED: Team 10: Vista Pop Warner executives may have made it easy for someone to empty bank accounts

"At first she thought she would just write a few checks and stop," said Liss. "She also thought she would be caught right away and she wasn’t, so she kept doing it with the thought that she would eventually repay the money."

Liss said at some point it became too much.

Owens was arrested in late February at the Guajome Park Academy in Vista, a charter school where she teaches math.

Owens was the treasurer for the Pop Warner Football and Cheer between October 2013 and November 2015. The sheriff's department Cyber Financial Crimes Unit began investigating accusations of theft in November 2015.

In early January, several parents with Vista Pop Warner approached Team 10 claiming that thousands of dollars they had raised for expenses were gone.