PONTIAC, Mich. – Kandice Hernandez wiped away tears Thursday morning as her former Farmington High School cheerleaders watched her pay the price for stealing their hard-earned money.
She stole more than $9,000 from the club. That money was supposed to go toward new uniforms and trips for the team. Instead, Hernandez stole it and used it for herself -- personal bills and plane tickets.
"To think that she just put that in her pocket, it's just so surprising," said Sydney Smith, a former cheerleader at the school.
Hernandez, now 25, was voted the district's "coach of the year" after the team went to regionals. She was sentenced to 5 years of probation after being convicted of larceny charges. The judge made it clear the probation is strict.
"You're going to pay the restitution of $12,622.16. I want every penny," said Judge Denise Langford-Morris, of Oakland County Circuit Court.
That more than $12,000 will go toward the victims in the case -- the cheerleading program. Hernandez and her attorney apologized to the court.
"I just wanted to say that what I did was wrong. I know that it was wrong and I'm really sorry for everyone that was hurt. I intend to pay it back," said Hernandez.
Because of her actions, the cheerleading program now has the school district handle its funds.
"It has to have a signature from one of the board members as well. The coach can't just go get money and there is no debit card," said Jennifer Pierce, a parent who is on the Cheerleading Board.
Hernandez will have to complete 200 hours of community service and commit to 24/7 random drug and alcohol testing. She must stay 1,000 feet from Farmington High School and cheerleading activities.