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Island principal sentenced for theft

The former South Whidbey Primary School principal who stole kindergarten and other funds will spend 90 days in jail.

Bernie Mahar, 48, was sentenced Friday in Island County Superior Court after pleading guilty to one count of first-degree theft. The Freeland resident had already reimbursed the school district $450 for the cash stolen from the kindergarden tuition.

She stole more than just kindergarten funds. Following Friday’s sentencing, she paid back the remaining $4,650 misappropriated from the South Whidbey Primary Social Fund.

Arguably the stiffest penalty for the former principal is the stipulation that she cannot work in education for at least a decade.

“Because the defendant entered a guilty plea to a class B felony, she will not be able to work in education for a minimum of 10 years,” said Deputy Prosecutor Eric Ohme Tuesday morning.

With no criminal history, Mahar would have qualified for a first offender waiver, allowing Judge Alan Hancock to impose zero to 90 days in jail. He said that in the defendant’s case, the waiver would have been appropriate but since she agreed to the 90-day sentence, the judge did not consider it.

Hancock described the agreed sentencing recommendation as “an appropriate sentence in this case.”

If Mahar qualifies and is accepted, she may do the 90 days in the Skagit County Jail’s work release program.

“That means she would be allowed to work, but all other time would be spent in jail,” Ohme said. The defendant is currently employed in Freeland.

Work release, for which Mahar would be financially responsible, would still require her to spend nights and weekends in jail.

“If she is not accepted, she will do the 90 days in the Island County Jail,” Ohme said.

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