ATLANTA — Former Georgia schools superintendent Linda Schrenko was sentenced Wednesday to eight years in prison and ordered to pay more than $414,000 in restitution for her role in an embezzlement scheme that helped pay for her face lift and campaign for governor.

U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper ordered Schrenko to repay $414,887.50, and said her prison sentence will be followed three years supervised probation and 100 days of community service.

Her defense team said she will be expected to report to a federal prison within four to six weeks.

Cooper called Schrenko’s offenses, “an egregious abuse of the public’s trust,” and said acts like hers are why the public is losing trust in public officials.

Schrenko, wearing a tailored black suit with pink lapels and cuffs, made a brief statement to the court: “I would like to thank your honor for a fair trial and the way in which you have treated me.”

Her right arm was in a cast. She told reporters before entering the courthouse that she injured her wrist when she fell at home.

As Schrenko arrived at the courthouse, officials confiscated her car. Defense lawyer Pete Theodocion said she would have a ride home.

Schrenko’s sentence, handed down at a morning hearing, was in line with a plea deal that she had struck with prosecutors midway into her trial in May.

Schrenko, 56, pleaded guilty to fraud and money laundering in exchange for testifying against her co-defendants. In the binding agreement, she agreed to serve eight years in prison.

Prosecutors said the scheme defrauded the public of $600,000 in federal education funds, intended for deaf and honors students. They said the money was funneled into Schrenko’s 2002 campaign for governor and spent on a face lift.

Schrenko’s plea deal led to the swift imprisonment of her campaign manager, Merle Temple, with whom she acknowledged having an affair, on charges of obstruction of justice on suspicion of leaking information to Schrenko’s lawyers.

In a plea deal of his own last year, Temple had agreed to testify against Schrenko. In May, she gave prosecutors a tape of a phone call with him. Temple said during the call that he would withhold some testimony against her as long as her lawyer didn’t “hurt” him, according to a transcript.

He had earlier pleaded guilty to wire fraud, conspiracy and theft of public funds and was expected to be a star witness in the Schrenko case before the plea agreement. He has yet to be sentenced.

Another Schrenko co-defendant, computer firm owner Stephan Botes, was found guilty of conspiracy, theft of federal funds and wire fraud charges. He is set to be sentenced next month.

Botes’ chief financial officer, Peter Steyn, was found innocent of all charges.

Schrenko, an educator from suburban Augusta, made history in 1994 when she became the first woman elected to a statewide, nonjudicial post in Georgia. She was also one of the first Republicans elected to such an office in a state that had been dominated by Democrats since Reconstruction.

Schrenko was re-elected in 1998, but decided against seeking a third term. Instead, she ran for governor, losing the 2002 Republican primary to Sonny Perdue who went on to win the general election.

Schrenko’s November 2004 indictment made her the state’s highest-ranking elected official in decades to face such serious charges. She was indicted on 22 counts of money laundering and 18 other counts ranging from conspiracy to fraud, with each count carrying up to 20 years in prison.

React to this story:

0
0
0
0
0

Tags

Recommended for you