San Bernardino clerk begins jail term for embezzling amusement park tickets

SAN BERNARDINO - A fired San Bernardino clerk began a four-month jail term Monday after being sentenced for embezzling nearly $30,000 worth of amusement park tickets.

Diane Lee Huston, 49, twisted her arms, shook nervously and declined to make a statement while standing before San Bernardino County Superior Court Judge John Martin.

Huston pleaded guilty April 14 to grand theft by embezzlement, six months after a city inventory revealed discrepancies between her log books and corresponding receipts.

"She basically swiped the tickets and sold them at a discount," Deputy District Attorney Sean McNally said.

Martin also ordered Huston to serve five years probation, instead of the usual three, to give her additional time to pay more than $54,000 in restitution, the amount requested by the city of San Bernardino.

"It's going to be what, a couple hundred years?" Martin said of the restitution payments. "I know you don't have a job and you're going to jail."

Her sentencing report said that Huston, who worked nine years for the city, ran its discount ticket program for the last three years while working in the human resources department.

"(Huston) took advantage of a position of trust when she took an enormous amount of amusement park tickets," the report said. "It took planning on her part to go undetected."

Huston denied taking the money to support a drug and gambling problem in a sentencing report provided by the county's probation department.

"It is believed she was not telling the truth," the report states.

An Oct. 15 search warrant served at her Riverside apartment showed that officials seized three glass pipes used to smoke methamphetamine and a baggie containing less than one ounce of marijuana.

In the sentencing report, Huston is quoted as saying that she is ashamed, embarrassed and sorry. She said would take responsibility for her actions.

Her attorney, Deputy Public Defender Isaac Rees, said only that his client and the city had reached a resolution that benefited both sides.

Huston's boyfriend, Kevin Timothy Trunnell, 49, also is charged in the case and remains a fugitive, court records show.

Reach John F. Berry at 909-806-3058 or jberry@PE.

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