General Crime

* Eleanor Zapanta Former Church Business Manager Pleads No Contest to Grand Theft

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The former business manager of the Center for Spiritual Living in Santa Rosa pleaded no contest this morning to stealing more than $500,000 from the non-denominational church. Eleanor Zapanta, 51, of Guerneville, will be sentenced to six years in prison on May 8 as part of a plea agreement. Chief Deputy District Attorney Bill Brockley said Zapanta had faced a potential eight-year sentence.

Zapanta was initially charged with seven felony counts each of grand theft and writing fictitious checks. Brockley condensed the charges into one grand theft charge with an enhancement alleging Zapanta stole more than $500,000. Zapanta stole $712,948 between July 1, 2004 and July 31, 2010 by falsifying ledger entries and checks, Brockley said. She spent the money on “excessive day to day spending” on personal items, clothing, dining out and shopping, he said. Zapanta will be required to pay restitution to the Center for Spiritual Living. Zapanta was laid off from the center and a new business manager discovered the embezzlement about nine months later, Brockley said.

The Center for Spiritual Living promotes Religious Science, founded by Ernest Holmes in 1949. It espouses the power of the mind for healing and fulfillment of life, according to its website. Adherents believe God is the Universal Spirit that operates through a Universal Mind, which is the Law of God, and that the Creative Mind receives direct impress of human thought and acts upon it.

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