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Target theft conviction clouds Auburn embezzlement suspect’s past

But defenders say Bucher is innocent until proven guilty on school club embezzlement allegations
By: Gus Thomson, Journal Staff Writer
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AUBURN CA - A search of law-enforcement and court records Wednesday revealed that embezzlement suspect Traci Bucher pleaded no contest to a theft charge the year before she took over the presidency of the Auburn Elementary School’s Parent Teacher Club. That allegation involved stealing from North Auburn’s Target store in late 2010. Placer County Sheriff’s Office deputies arrested Bucher, 37, last week on allegations that she used a debit card issued by the club to misappropriate as much as $4,200 from the non–profit organization. Out on bail, Bucher is scheduled to make her first court appearance Sept. 11 on charges connected with the allegations. Bucher has declined to comment about the case but has been supported online by several people who know her from her volunteer work in the community. As well as a Parent Teacher Club officer, Bucher also serves on the Placer Junior Hillmen football program board of directors as publicity director. Commenting at AuburnJournal.com, Coree Davis said that Bucher had worked countless hours and put together well-organized fundraisers for local organizations. “For people to chastise her without a fair legal process is just showing ignorance,” Davis said. John Trull said he serves on the Junior Hillmen board with Bucher. “I hope and pray that she is found innocent,” Trull posted. “Until then, Traci is innocent until proven guilty.” The Auburn Union School District issued a statement that it shares concerns of the new Parent Teacher Club at the North Auburn School, which submitted information to be investigated by the Placer County Sheriff’s Office. Sheriff’s Detective Jim Hudson said the investigation led to allegations that Bucher misappropriated between $2,200 and $4,200 from the club. The club provides funding for student activities at the school. Its most recent filing with the Secretary of State showed revenues of $32,296 in 2009-2010. Bucher’s last recorded brush with the Placer County court system came after she was arrested Oct. 18, 2010, on a felony charge of grand theft. According to Sheriff’s Office records, Bucher was arrested shortly before 10 a.m. on that date at North Auburn’s Target store on allegations she illegally took $1,235.43 worth of items from the store over three separate visits. Placer County Superior Court records tracking the case show that Bucher pleaded “no contest” to a charge of misdemeanor petty theft under $400 before Judge Jeff Penney on Dec. 20, 2010. The court filings show there was “no objection” to having the charge expunged and cleared from Bucher’s record after 18 months of “clean probation.” Bucher was also ordered to stay away from Target during the probationary period and complete a five-hour workshop on theft and property crimes with Auburn’s Sierra Education and Counseling Services. The court record includes a receipt indicating Bucher completed the workshop Jan. 30, 2011.