PORTLAND, Maine — A former national park employee pleaded guilty Tuesday in U.S. District Court to embezzlement of government money.

Danel Nickerson, 45, of Kittery was released on personal recognizance bail.

U.S. District Judge Nancy Torresen set Nickerson’s sentencing for Aug. 8.

Nickerson was indicted in January by a federal grand jury in Casper, Wyo. The case was moved to Maine at her request.

By pleading guilty, Nickerson admitted to taking more than $7,000 in cash from Yellowstone National Park, when she worked in the summer of 2007.
Her job included receiving envelopes containing cash that had been collected at entrance booths around Yellowstone, according to the prosecution version of events to which she pleaded. Nickerson, along with other employees, was responsible for counting and recording cash receipts and depositing the money.

She diverted $3,129 in cash by concealing the envelope containing the money with other paperwork on her desk, and then by carrying the cash away from the office, according to court documents. Nickerson also put two envelopes, one containing $3,975 and another with $325, in a trash can, later removing the trash can from the counting area.

Information about why she took the money is not in court documents.

The total loss to Yellowstone was $7,429.

Federal Public Defender David Beneman, who represents Nickerson, said Tuesday that his client paid the full amount of restitution when she entered her guilty plea.

“That doesn’t happen very often,” he said.

Nickerson faces up to 10 years in federal prison and a fine of up to $250,000. Her plea agreement with federal prosecutors calls for a recommended sentence of probation, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.