GENERIC:Gavel

A former director of the Michigan Hispanic/Latino Commission faces up to 15 years in prison after pleading guilty to stealing nearly $86,000 that was set aside for a Lansing statue to honor farm labor leader Cesar Chavez.

The Lansing State Journal reports that Maria Louisa Mason pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzling money that included state tax dollars and private donations. The Chavez statue has not been built.

Authorities say the money was transferred to bank accounts that Mason controlled and 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 retired in 2015 from state government work. She must repay the money and will be sentenced Jan. 23.

Copyright 2018 Associated Press. All rights reserved.

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