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Oakland woman pleads guilty to embezzling from two firms where she worked

PIX Now - Morning Edition 2/29/24
PIX Now - Morning Edition 2/29/24 09:16

A woman accused of stealing money from two companies for which she oversaw the finances has pleaded guilty to embezzlement, the Alameda County District Attorney's Office said Wednesday.

Yolanda Cheers was the controller of the accounting department at Oakland nonprofit the National Equity Project when she transferred $4,000 of the organization's money into her account in 2016.

According to prosecutors, an accountant at the nonprofit noticed the funds transfer and a police report was filed. Cheers was also fired.

In 2019, felony charges were filed against Cheers after she tried to get a loan in the name of another company she worked with, BMWL & Partners, a public relations firm in Oakland. The business also learned that Cheers had paid herself several bonuses and made unauthorized credit card purchases, including a $10,000 trip to a vineyard, according to prosecutors.

Though eventually charged with six felony counts of grand theft by embezzlement, three felony counts of forgery, two felony counts of identity theft, and one count of preparing false documentary evidence, a negotiated plea deal concluded with Cheers pleading guilty to felony grand theft by embezzlement and agreeing to pay the victims back.

On the day of her plea, Cheers presented BMWL & Partners with a cashier's check for $329,000 and gave $1,000 to the National Equity Project.

District Attorney Pamela Price said that the case against Cheers had "languished" for five years after originally being charged by her predecessor, Nancy O'Malley.

"I commend the work of Deputy District Attorney Larnell France, who, within five months of taking this assignment, successfully litigated and settled this case," she said in a statement released by her office Wednesday.

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