Crime

Ex-employee of Exploration Station pleads not guilty in embezzlement case

The Exploration Station in Grover Beach.
The Exploration Station in Grover Beach. dmiddlecamp@thetribunenews.com

A former employee of the Central Coast Exploration Station in Grover Beach pleaded not guilty to charges of forgery and embezzlement Thursday, just hours after prosecutors filed a criminal complaint.

Stacy Anne Halvorsen, 40, of Arroyo Grande, pleaded not guilty to three counts of forgery and one count of grand theft by embezzlement at an arraignment in San Luis Obispo Superior Court.

The plea came after the District Attorney’s Office filed formal charges against her late Wednesday, nearly two months after her arrest.

Prosecutors allege that since March 2013, Halvorsen forged at least three checks totaling nearly $3,400 from the South County Family Education and Cultural Center, the nonprofit that runs the center.

The amount of money allegedly embezzled was large enough for prosecutors to charge Halvorsen with the additional grand theft charge. According to court records, Halvorsen has three past misdemeanor convictions for writing bad checks.

Halvorsen was booked into San Luis Obispo County Jail on June 5 and released on bail after turning herself in to Grover Beach police.

The Exploration Station’s science center — which provides hands-on science activities for children — has been shuttered since last week.

Halvorsen had worked there since 2012, according to a tax form filed with the IRS listing her as one of two part-time paid employees in that year. The second employee was placed on leave while the facility is closed.

Exploration Station Board President Anita Shower said last week that the center will remain closed for the next two months while the nonprofit conducts a review and reorganizes.

Halvorsen is scheduled for a preliminary hearing Aug. 28 in Superior Court.

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