The former chief executive of a central-Iowa job training agency avoided trial Monday by pleading guilty to eight of the 30 criminal counts lodged against her. Ramona Cunningham admitted she conspired to defraud the federal government out of funds she used to pay high salaries to executives of the Central Iowa Employment and Training Consortium.

Cunningham was set to go to trial in Davenport on July 8th, but her attorney Bill Kutmus says she wants to put what he calls "a shipwreck" behind her starting now. Kutmus says: "She admitted she was at the wheel when this shipwreck occurred. She’s accepted responsibility for her past deeds. Keep in mind she’s in her 50s and she has to start life all over."

The maximum sentences for Cunningham’s crimes would give her 50 years in prison and more than 1.8 million dollars in fines. But federal prosecutors say she is more likely to receive between 7 and 10 years in prison.

U.S. Attorney Matthew Whittaker says he hopes other executives who depend on public funding paid attention to the case of Ramona Cunningham. "I hope the CIETC case serves as a lesson in how publicly funded entities, especially those that use federal funds, should be operated to serve the common good," Whittaker says.

Whittaker estimates his office spent $200,000 dollars to investigate and prosecute the case.