REDWOOD CITY — A woman who spent her would-be wedding night in jail after stealing $35,000 to pay for her nuptials may still avoid jail time if she pays the money back, a prosecutor said Wednesday.

Briana Nicole Balancier, 26, of San Mateo, pleaded no contest to forgery, grand theft and commercial burglary charges on Tuesday in exchange for avoiding a state prison sentence, said Deputy District Attorney Steve Wagstaffe.

Balancier still faces up to nine months in county jail, but Judge Susan Etezadi said she would consider reducing that term if the woman paid back the money before her Oct. 9 sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors say Balancier couldn't come up with the cash to pay for the caterer, reception hall, DJ and photographer, so she stole it. In March she deposited a check for $35,000 drawn from her day care business Happy Little Hearts into her San Mateo Credit Union account, Wagstaffe said.

A few days later she attempted to withdraw some of the money and was told that there was an 11-day hold on the check, which was from a US Bank account. Credit union officials said they couldn't give her the money until the check cleared with US Bank.

The same day Balancier wrote up a phony fax saying that the check was good and sent it to the credit union, Wagstaffe said. Over the next couple days she withdrew about $20,000 and used it to cover wedding expenses. Not long after that the check bounced and bank officials called police.


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Balancier was arrested on March 19, just two days before the wedding was set to take place.