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United Way employee admits guilt in theft case

CEDAR CITY, Utah (AP) — The Iron County United Way's sole paid employee has pleaded guilty to reduced charges of attempted theft and forgery in a case prosecutors said involved $72,000.

As the result of a plea bargain, Jennilee Stapleton, 44, who had been executive secretary of the organization, pleaded guilty in 5th District Court Tuesday to attempted theft in excess of $5,000.

The Cedar Valley woman was arrested in March and charged with felony theft. Five counts of felony forgery were added to the charges in May, and additional charges of attempted theft and forgery were filed last week. It was to the two latest charges that she pleaded guilty.

"She's very remorseful and very cooperative," defense attorney Keith Barnes said. "She's making arrangements so that when she is sentenced she can make restitution in full."

Stapleton is to be sentenced Oct. 21.

County Attorney Scott Garrett said, "We want United Way to have their money back upfront because they are a not-for-profit organization. It's difficult to function without capital."

The charity's board began investigating after the Children's Justice Center of Iron County said it had had not received an expected grant from United Way.