A Castaic woman pleaded no contest Tuesday to grand theft, having stolen thousands of dollars from the Blue Star Mothers of the Canyons, a group devoted to helping women with children serving in the military.
Karianne Lee Dauer-Hewitt, 45, appeared Tuesday in San Fernando Superior Court, where she entered her plea and was ordered to pay close to $6,789 in restitution.
“She pleaded no contest today to one felony count of grand theft of personal property,” Ricardo Santiago, spokesman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney’s Office told The Signal Tuesday.
Dauer-Hewitt was told to return to court April 10 for sentencing.
“Meanwhile, the defendant was ordered to pay restitution, three years formal probation and 30 days community labor,” Santiago said.
“If the defendant pays the $6,788.65 in restitution by the sentencing date, the plea may be reduced to a misdemeanor count,” he said.
Blue Star Mothers of America is a network of support for mothers who are coping with the anxiety, concerns and frustration that can come with having a loved one away from the family, often in dangerous situations.
The organization boasts having more than 200 chapters across the country.
The Blue Star Mothers of the Canyons lost its standing with the national group after the money went missing.
In their felony complaint filed against Dauer-Hewitt, county prosecutors allege she stole more than $950 in cash from the Blue Star Mothers of the Canyons on or about July 1, 2015. Any amount more than $950 is considered grand theft, which is why that was the initial charge.
Dauer-Hewitt was arrested March 21 on suspicion of grand theft of money valued at more than $400, a felony. Detectives later reported the amount was suspected to be significantly higher.
She was taken into custody with bail set at $20,000.
Arrest records show, however, she posted bail and was released from custody 10 hours after her arrest.
In May, her lawyers made a request in court for additional discovery, intending to present some mitigation on her behalf, Santiago told The Signal in May.
On Tuesday, she appeared in court for what was scheduled to be a preliminary hearing and, instead, pleaded no contest to the grand theft.
The demise of the previous local chapter was a blow to the SCV community. It created, however, a void one Santa Clarita woman moved quickly to fill.
Sabina Fetter, 42 of Santa Clarita, set about creating a completely new local chapter called Blue Star Mothers of Santa Clarita – CA46 – when she learned no current chapter existed.
Fetter’s oldest son, a graduate of West Ranch High School is an active duty Combat Engineer in the US Army. Her youngest son is graduating West Ranch High School this upcoming May, and will be going off to college to pursue a law degree in order to become an Army JAG.
Asked for her reaction to Tuesday’s court ruling, she said: “Thankful.”
Anyone wanting more information about Blue Star Mothers of Santa Clarita is urged to go to bluestarmothersSCV@groups.facebook.com.