The former president of a nonprofit that serves as the advocacy arm for school districts in Riverside County pleaded guilty Wednesday to embezzlement and other charges for stealing $40,000 from business accounts to pay personal expenses.

William Clarence Newberry, 61, previous head of the Riverside County School Boards Association, was charged in June 2019 with embezzlement, misappropriation of funds and two counts of grand theft.

During a felony settlement conference at the Riverside Hall of Justice Wednesday, Newberry pleaded guilty to the embezzlement charge as well as one count of grand theft as a part of a plea with the Riverside County District Attorney’s Office. The remaining charges were dropped.

Newberry, who is free on $40,000 bond, is scheduled to be sentenced Jan. 10.

According to the District Attorney’s Office, its investigators were alerted in November 2018 to possible illicit use of funds belonging to the RCSBA, along with a club at Eleanor Roosevelt High School in Corona.

The RCSBA represents the county’s 23 school districts, providing assistance with promotional campaigns and lobbying on behalf of the districts to oppose or support legislation, according to its website.

RCSBA Treasurer Tom Hunt brought his findings to the D.A.’s office not long after he was appointed to his position, prompting an investigation that uncovered numerous instances between December 2013 and February 2017 when Newberry allegedly used the organization’s debit card to pay his bills and amortize other debts, prosecutors said.

The alleged theft of members’ dues payments totaled $17,000, according to the agency.

Through additional scrutiny of Newberry’s transactions, it was determined that the defendant had allegedly drained $23,000 from the Roosevelt High Climate Booster Club.

Newberry is a prior member of the Corona-Norco Unified School District Board of Education. He has no documented prior felony or misdemeanor convictions.

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