A former director of the Michigan Hispanic/Latino Commission faces up to 15 years in prison for stealing money planned for a statue in Lansing to honor farm labor leader Cesar Chavez.
The Lansing State Journal reports that Maria Louisa Mason pleaded guilty Wednesday in Ingham County Circuit Court to embezzling money that included state appropriations and private donations.
Authorities have said the money was transferred to bank accounts that Mason controlled and then used to pay credit card bills, taxes and other personal expenses. The scheme spanned several years and lasted until June 2015.
The 82-year-old Mason of Williamson retired in 2015 from state government work. She has agreed to repay nearly $86,000 in restitution and will be sentenced Jan. 23.
The Chavez statue has not been built.