BY MAIRE O’NEILL
Tabatha Jones has been accepted into the First Judicial District Pre-Prosecution Diversion (PPD) Program, Assistant District Attorney Kent Wahlquist said Friday.
Jones had previously agreed to enter into a plea agreement on an 2017 embezzlement charge wherein she would be granted a conditional discharge, pay restitution of $5,020.69 to the nonprofit Los Alamos Youth Football and Cheerleading League (LAYFCL) and be on supervised probation for three years. The maximum sentence for the embezzlement charge was three years in prison and/or a $5,000 fine. The proposed agreement would have allowed probation to end as soon as the restitution was paid.
Judge Jason Lidyard questioned that plea agreement in June saying, “Embezzlement is more than just providing the money back that was taken, that there’s something more that an individual has to do”. He said serving a period of time on probation to earn that conditional discharge could change his mind.
Jones was initially taken into custody in August 2017 after she allegedly admitted to Los Alamos Police Det. Ryan Wolking in an interview that she spent the League’s money for personal use. During the interview Jones discussed experiencing financial hardship and not having a job and admitted to spending the League’s money on makeup products that she sold, groceries, Amazon purchases and jewelry. Jones also admitted to making $700 in cash withdrawals for which she could not remember the justification.
The PPD is a program designed to remove people from the criminal justice who are most amenable to rehabilitation and least likely to commit future offenses. It allows for supervision of defendants in an individualized plan to meet their needs while addressing retribution for the victim and restoration of damages through restorative justice. The charge against the defendant must be for a nonviolent felony offense and the defendant must have no prior felony convictions or significant criminal record.