BASS LAKE – Donald Eaves, the former manager of Yosemite Bank in Oakhurst appeared in Bass Lake Superior Court today and was sentenced to 180 days behind bars and 5 years probation for embezzling money from his employer.
Eaves, 53, was arrested on May 15 and charged with 32 counts of grand theft and embezzlement for stealing $115,500 over a 2-year period during his tenure at the bank.
Eaves was behind bars on an $800,000 bond from the date of his arrest until being released on his own recognizance on June 5.
On June 14, Eaves agreed to plead guilty to four of the thirty-two felony charges against him. He could have faced three years for each of the counts, but according to the terms of the plea agreement, the rest of the charges were dropped.
Eaves was in court on July 12 for sentencing, but several people who wished to submit letters on his behalf had not had time to do so, and Judge Charles Weiland continued the matter until today.
Defense attorney Michael Culver told the court that several community leaders, including Eaves’s former boss at the bank, spoke of his good character and gentle nature, his service to the community over many years, and said they were shocked by the painful news of his arrest.
Culver told the court that his client would have a much better chance of paying restitution for his crimes if he were out of jail and able to continue seeking employment, though Eaves has not been able to find a job.
“This has been a humiliating experience for my client, and he wants to try to make things right,” said Culver. “He wants to be a contributing member of the community.”
Prosecutor Brooke Bergman noted that Mr. Eaves was only pleading to guilty to four of the thirty-two charges originally filed against him, and that he had been in a position of significant trust.
“He didn’t come forward and confess, he got caught,” said Bergman. She also noted that the issue of Eaves’s character and all other mitigating factors were taken into account when the plea deal was made, and the recommendation from Probation was written.
The judge agreed.
“He was held in high regard for a long time, and he betrayed that trust,” said Judge Weiland. “He committed numerous crimes for which there are penalties and consequences.”
Eaves, who worked at the bank for about 10 years, faced up to two years in prison, and up to $10,000 in restitution fines.
Following the recommendation of the Madera County Probation Department, the judge sentenced him to 180 days with 22 days served and 22 days good time/work time credit, and five years probation. He must also repay the $115,500 he has admitted to embezzling from Yosemite Bank, a division of Premier Bank, and several thousand dollars in fines and fees.
Eaves was not taken into custody in court today, but rather the judge ordered him to report to the Madera County Department of Corrections by 4 p.m. on Aug. 30. However, Eaves preferred to start serving his sentence as soon as possible, and will turn himself in on Aug. 6.