Friday, July 14, 2006
Former Georgia School Superintendent Linda Schrenko received an eight-year prison term after her guilty plea to conspiracy, corruption, and money laundering charges related to diverting nearly $500,000 in education funds to help out her failed 2002 gubernatorial campaign. In addition, after losing the election, she used over $9,000 to pay for cosmetic surgery. According to a press release issued by the U.S. Attorney's Office for the Northern District of Georgia (here) describing the case:
In the summer of 2002, SCHRENKO, who at the time was the State School Superintendent of Georgia, and her former Deputy Superintendent, MERLE TEMPLE, conspired with STEPHAN BOTES, the owner of a computer consulting company, to fraudulently obtain over a half million dollars of federal funds administered by the Georgia Department of Education. The evidence showed SCHRENKO personally ordered the Georgia Department of Education to issue checks in amounts just under $50,000, totaling over $500,000, to various companies owned and controlled by BOTES, purportedly to provide computer licenses and services to the Atlanta Area School for the Deaf, the Georgia School for the Deaf, and the Governor's Honors Program.
SCHRENKO personally ordered payments to BOTES’ companies at a time when no services had been performed and no contracts for services existed. SCHRENKO directed the Department to issue 11 checks on one day, July 24, 2002, in amounts just under $50,000, the maximum amount allowed by her signature alone. The monies ostensibly were to go for services to be provided to the Atlanta Area School For the Deaf, Georgia School For the Deaf, and the Governor’s Honors Program. However, products and services were not provided, and approximately half of the fraudulent proceeds were secretly funneled into SCHRENKO’S campaign and to third parties to pay expenses for the campaign.
Schrenko was once a rising star in the Georgia Republican Party, but her fall from grace will now include a substantial prison term. (ph)