After about five years in court, Donna Rantz, former treasurer of the Highland Woman’s Club, plead guilty on Aug. 5 to the embezzlement of nearly $30,000 of the club’s funds.

Rantz, a certified public accountant, repaid the club in three payments and is now on three years probation as part of a plea bargain for the misdemeanor. The final payment was made on Aug. 5. The State Board of Accountancy has been notified of the fraud investigation by the State Attorney General’s Office.

Highland Woman’s Club Secretary Nancy Hordynski informed the club’s members in a letter sent on Friday, Sept. 18.

Rantz had served as the club’s treasurer from 2010 to 2015. In 2015, the club board of directors reported difficulties obtaining financial records from Rantz. Eventually, Rantz dropped off a bag of records and resigned. The records were found to be incomplete and the club’s bank records indicated several checks, not authorized by the board, were made out to Rantz between August 2010 and February 2015.

The checks ranged in value from a few hundred dollars to $1,000 and totaled $29,947.

On Sept. 22, 2015, an arrest warrant was issued and Rantz was arrested later that day. She paid a $100,000 bail and was released.

Since 2015, the club has been involved in a five-year court battle with more than 50 court appearances and several changes in attorneys.

According to the letter, the club was provided a district attorney during the case at the taxpayer’s expense, allowing the club to pursue the case without added legal expenses.

The club focuses its efforts on raising funds for college scholarships for Highland students graduating from Citrus Valley, San Gorgonio and San Andreas high schools. Hordynski shared that the club’s persistence in the prolonged court battle was about reclaiming the money so the women could give it out to college-going students.

The letter added that receiving Rantz’ payments has helped the club during the coronavirus pandemic, during which the club had to cancel its fundraisers.

“Though it took much time and effort to get the case finalized, the paycheck came at a perfect time as we would have not been able to give out as much in scholarships as we had no fashion show fundraiser this past year,” the letter stated.

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