Bernier Pleads Guilty to Embezzlement

NEWPORT CITY – A former University of Vermont (UVM) Extension employee, who worked out of the Newport office, has admitted to stealing more than $45,000 over the course of about five years from her employer. Celine Bernier, 47, of Newport, pleaded guilty to a felony charge of embezzlement in Orleans Country Criminal Court on May 23. She is facing time in prison.In September 2010, UVM police learned of a possible fraud or embezzlement case at the UVM Extension office in Newport.Bernier was an employee of UVM for more than 20 years as an administrative assistant and her responsibilities included handling cash flow. According to court records, Bernier purportedly deposited at least 34 checks made out to UVM Extension into her personal checking account. Court records also show that Bernier used a UVM purchasing card for shopping at local businesses for clothing and personal care products, which appeared to have no business related purpose.When Bernier was questioned by investigators, she admitted to the allegations, according to court records. She said that what she had done was “stupid” and that she was in trouble, according to an affidavit by Detective Brandon King with the UVM Police. She always planned to pay the money back, she told police.Bernier is scheduled for a sentencing hearing in July, and is facing a two to four year prison term, all suspended, except for 120 days to serve.