ATLANTA — Former Georgia schools superintendent Linda Schrenko pleaded guilty Wednesday to fraud and money laundering, ending her trial on charges of embezzling about $600,000 in federal education money to fund a failed political campaign and face lift.

Schrenko, 56, will serve eight years in prison and hand over evidence as part of a plea bargain. She could also soon testify in the government’s case against two of her alleged co-conspirators.

A flustered Schrenko needed to be prompted several times by U.S. District Judge Clarence Cooper as he went through the charges. Her voice wavered as she answered, “Yes, sir.”

The former superintendent had been on trial for about two weeks in federal court on charges of embezzling money that was meant for the state Department of Education. Prosecutors alleged the money was used to underwrite Schrenko’s failed 2002 campaign for governor, cosmetic surgery and for other extras, including a television, computer and a down payment on a car.

The deal was reached after the latest round of testimony from Schrenko’s friends and staffers.

Later in the day, Schrenko’s former campaign manager was charged with obstruction of justice. Merle Temple was charged with leaking information to Schrenko’s attorneys, authorities said.

Temple 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 she reached her plea agreement.

In testimony Monday, a witness said Schrenko told office staff in her daughter’s dental practice to fraudulently endorse checks to her campaign. And on Tuesday, a former campaign staffer testified that he was ordered by Temple to ask friends and relatives to a sign over a batch of $590 checks that were later diverted to the campaign.

The plea completed an extraordinary fall from grace for a politician who once hoped to win Georgia’s highest office.

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 also was one of the first Republicans elected to such an office in a state that had been dominated by Democrats since Reconstruction.

She was re-elected in 1998, but her bid to unseat Gov. Roy Barnes — with whom she had feuded for years — fell short when she lost the Republican primary to Sonny Perdue, who went on to beat Barnes.

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.

She initially blamed Temple — described in court as her lover — for abusing her trust and then turning on her to avoid a lengthier prison sentence. He has already pleaded guilty to participating in the plot and could receive a lighter sentence for his cooperation with the government.

The courtroom was dead silent as Cooper went through each charge and painstakingly asked the state’s ex-schools chief about her educational background to be sure she wasn’t pressured into a deal.

Schrenko stifled a chuckle when Cooper asked her if she was taking any medications, explaining that she takes as many as 20 pills on some days for conditions including sleep apnea, back pain, heart disease, narcolepsy and osteoporisis. She also said she takes antidepressants and an occasional tranquilizer.

After the hearing, Schrenko and her attorney, Pete Theodocion, left the courtroom without comment. But it might not be the last time Schrenko appears in court.

Prosecutors are still pressing charges against Stephan Botes and Peter Steyn, who they allege were coconspirators in a plot that funneled thousands of dollars into Schrenko’s failed campaign.

Botes was seeking a $2.5 million state Department of Education contract and had agreed to help Schrenko’s campaign, said federal prosecutor Russell Vineyard. Steyn, who is Botes’ chief operating officer, went further by helping funnel federal education money into the campaign, prosecutors said.

A formal sentencing hearing will be held July 12. The judge is expected to announce where Schrenko will be imprisoned, and outline the restitution, if any, that she must pay.

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