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Guerneville woman suspected in church embezzlement held on $1 million bail

A Guerneville woman suspected of embezzling $712,000 from a Santa Rosa church turned herself in Monday morning and was being held on $1 million bail.

Eleanor Zapanta, 51, the former business manager at the Center for Spiritual Living, had been wanted since prosecutors filed a 14-count criminal complaint against her last week.

Under an arrangement with her lawyer, Richard Scott, she appeared before a Sonoma County judge and was taken into custody.

Scott said he would visit Zapanta and review the charges before her Wednesday arraignment.

"She's a good person and feels terrible about the accusations against her," Scott said. "She's said to me she wants to work hard to resolve this."

Zapanta is accused of stealing the money from 2004 to 2010 through more than 250 unauthorized check transactions.

She's charged with seven felony counts of grand theft by an employee, seven counts of forging business documents and a white-collar crime enhancement alleging fraud in excess of $500,000.

She faces up to 12 years in prison if convicted, said Bill Brockley, chief deputy district attorney.

Scott said Zapanta had been willing to surrender since last week but was awaiting the formal filing of charges following a long investigation, Scott said.

Contrary to rumors, she had not fled the area, he said.


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