CHULA VISTA, Calif. (KGTV) -- A former longtime employee of the Sweetwater Union High School District pleaded not guilty Tuesday afternoon to felony charges of embezzlement.
Danya Williams, 42, is charged with embezzling more than $53,000 over 18 months beginning in June of 2017.
Williams worked for the district for 17 years in the accounting department and most recently human resources.
According to prosecutors, she was in charge of taking money orders to pay for background checks of job applicants. She's accused of altering the money orders; making them payable to herself.
Prosecutors say she deposited 800 money orders into her own personal account.
"Some that weren't hired can request them back. When some of them were asked for them back, they discovered they were never deposited into an account," said Deputy District Attorney Kimball Denton.
Williams resigned from the district when the allegations surfaced. She's out of jail on a $50,000 bond. She could face four years in prison if convicted. She has no criminal record.
"It's very disappointing and sad when people who we trust within our school communities do brazen things like this that breach that trust and we're going to be holding her accountable for her actions."
"She probably ranks in the top ten of the most nervous I've ever had. She's about to have a breakdown today. She's extremely nervous, and again, she's the nicest person you'll ever meet. I understand the other side as well," said defense attorney Kerry Armstrong.
Her preliminary exam is scheduled for April 30th.