Rebecca Sigeti could face up to six years in state prison after pleading guilty to four out of 40 counts of fraud, theft and misuse of public funds for embezzling from the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District (PSWID) and Sunny Mountain Realty.
Between 2010 until 2016, she stole more than $800,000 from both entities, acting as their bookkeeper. The now-deceased owner of Sunny Mountain alerted the authorities to the embezzlement in 2016. The investigation took months as it coincided with an investigation of former PSWID treasurer Mike Greer. He will be sentenced for theft, fraud and forgery on May 13 in Payson.
On May 20, Sigeti will learn her fate when Judge Tim Wright sentences her in Payson at 10:30 a.m.
Sigeti signed a plea after her attorney hammered out a deal with the Arizona Attorney General’s Office. She took the plea deal during her April 22 change of plea hearing to avoid a jury trial.
PSWID chair Rob Arbuthunot and treasurer Sharon Hillman attended the hearing, but did not make any formal statements — saying they’re wait for the sentencing.
Sigeti pleaded guilty to four counts — fraudulent schemes, violation of duties as a custodian of public monies and two counts of theft. She faces prison time as well as hefty fines. Most of the 40 counts against her were for forgery with a written instrument.
“As to all counts, you will pay restitution to the Pine-Strawberry Water Improvement District in the amount of $524,685 and to Sunny Mountain Realty in the amount of $316,370,” said Wright.
The PSWID board has already collected $89,000 in an insurance settlement for the money she embezzled while a district employee. Prior to that, she was an employee of CH2M, a consulting firm.
The insurance settlement only covers “what she stole from the district while she was an employee of the district,” said Hillman.
To gain back the remaining $418,000, PSWID has filed a lawsuit against Sigeti, CH2M and its parent company OMI.
“They are in the discovery process,” said Arbuthunot.