Restitution has been ordered for a Williamston woman convicted of stealing money intended to pay for a statue to honor a legendary labor leader.

82-year-old Maria Louisa Mason was sentenced in Ingham County Circuit Court earlier this week to five years of probation. A release from Michigan Attorney General Dana Nessell notes that Mason is also required to pay approximately $86,000 in restitution. Mason, who previously pleaded guilty to one count of embezzlement between $50,000 and $100,000, is a former director of the state’s Hispanic/Latino Commission.

The charges against her stemmed from the embezzlement said to have occurred between October of 2012 and June of 2015. The money Mason admitted to stealing was a combination of state funding and private donations that was intended to be used for a memorial statue honoring labor leader and civil rights activist César Chávez.

The Attorney General’s Office says Mason moved the money into her personal accounts and used it to pay off numerous credit cards, University Club Fees, taxes, auto insurance, energy and phone bills, as well as other items. The statue was never built.

In announcing the charges, Nessel said that, “State employees are expected to act in the best interest of the residents of this state (and that) Mason’s actions were a substantial breach in public trust and blatant abuse of power.” (JK)