Kihei woman sentenced for embezzling from nonprofit

WAILUKU – A Kihei woman who repaid more than $24,000 she stole while she was volunteer treasurer for the nonprofit Hawaii Society of Professional Engineers was ordered to perform 100 hours of community service.

Theresa Nunan, 50, was given a chance to keep a first-degree theft conviction off her record if she follows court requirements for the next five years.

“I’m beside myself that I did this,” she said as she was sentenced Thursday. “I’m just really sorry. I continue to care for the students any way I can.”

According to court records, the $24,440 was stolen from Oct. 19, 2012, to March 5, 2014, from the charitable organization.

Its goal is to help students become interested in engineering, math and science, said Deputy Prosecutor Justine Hura.

“They’re all volunteers. They go into this trying to do good for society,” Hura said. “She took money from kids.”

Hura said Nunan made statements that she stole the money to keep her children in college.

“She was too proud to ask for a loan,” Hura said. “But she wasn’t too proud to take this money.

“This was a selfish crime. It was her choosing her needs over the money that did not belong to her.”

Defense attorney Cary Virtue said Nunan had no prior criminal record and was embarrassed and remorseful. At the time of the offense, she was self-employed and her business “was basically bankrupt,” Virtue said.

“Her friends are shocked she did this,” he said. “She’s a hard worker. She’s an honest person. She’s trustworthy.”

Nunan said she volunteered for HSPE activities because she cared about the students.

She said she spent 20 to 25 hours devising a Math Matters test for the students and volunteered at Math Counts events.

“What I did, it was for personal survival,” she said. “When it happened, I really tried to make sure no one would get hurt . . . no students would not get their scholarship money and no person who relied on HSPE would not be paid.

“It doesn’t excuse what I did.”

Second Circuit Judge Joseph Cardoza followed a plea agreement in sentencing Nunan.

* Lila Fujimoto can be reached at