WEST COVINA — A former Covina Police Department civilian records clerk pleaded guilty Friday to charges of stealing more than $100,000 dollars from the agency and hiding her son-in-law’s crime report to prevent his prosecution, authorities said.
Mary Louise Wasilchin, also known as Louise Vance-Wasilchin, 58, of Upland, admitted to stealing at least $140,000 from the police department and hiding the records during an arraignment hearing in West Covina Superior Court, Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials said.
Under a plea agreement, she is expected to be sentenced to two years and eight months in state prison, according to police and Los Angeles County District Attorney’s officials. She will not be eligible to serve her sentence in county jail under the state’s new prison realignment program.
“I’m glad there’s a resolution in the case,” Covina Police Chief Kim Raney said. “It’s appropriate that she goes to state prison, and the next step now is to get full restitution for the city.”
He added that the investigation and prosecution has been an unpleasant experience for the department.
“You’ve got a supervisor who was trusted by her managers, and it turns out that trust was betrayed,” Raney said.
Police believe Wasilchin actually stole more than $340,000, officials said. The exact amount Wasilchin will be ordered to repay will be determined at a sentencing and restitution hearing Feb. 17.
Wasilchin has already agreed to repay $140,000 of stolen money, however officials will present evidence in the restitution hearing that the amount is higher, Lt. Patrick Buchanan said.
“We look forward to presenting more information to the court,” he said.
Prior to Friday’s plea deal, Wasilchin could have faced up to six years and eight months in prison if convicted as charged, according to Deputy District Attorney Edward A. Miller.
Wasilchin stole city parking meters funds and fine money, as well as vehicle impound fees, D.A. spokeswoman Jane Robison said in a written statement. The thefts allegedly took place between January 2008 and May 2011.
Raney pointed out that the amount of money Wasilchin is suspected of taking could have paid the salaries of three patrol officers for a year.
She was arrested Dec. 15 following an extensive probe, investigators said. She was first placed on leave, then resigned.
Authorities became suspicious of Wasilchin after she was involved in a car crash on April 29 and a police officer noticed 1,000 quarters inside the vehicle in a canvas bag. She was not working that day.
A subsequent search of Wasilchin’s Upland home turned up more than 2,000 dollar coins in a bedroom and another $1,000 in coins in an office, Miller said.
When investigators searched Wasilchin’s desk on May 5, they discovered a police report she had intercepted detailing her son-in-law’s alleged driving under the influence and hit-and-run arrest on May 6, 2008.
“An investigation revealed that the report was never delivered to be filed in court,” Robison said, adding that, “there was no evidence that her son-in-law was aware of her actions.”
Raney said the Wasilchin’s guilty plea so early in the trial process was “a reflection on how solid the case was.”
“We’re pleased that it didn’t have to go into a long lengthy trial and she admitted her guilt,” Buchanan added.