Published Online: November 16, 2004
Published in Print: November 17, 2004, as Former Ga. Schools Chief Charged With Theft

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Former Ga. Schools Chief Charged With Theft

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Linda C. Shrenko

Linda C. Schrenko, a former two-term Georgia state superintendent of schools, was indicted last week on federal charges that she stole more than $600,000 of federal education money. She spent more than $9,000 of it on a face-lift, according to the indictment.

Merle Temple Jr., who served as her deputy superintendent in the state education department, and Steven Botes, an Alpharetta, Ga., businessman who owns a computer-consulting company, were also named in the indictment, which includes charges of conspiracy, wire fraud, and theft of public money.

Sally Q. Yates, the acting U.S. attorney in Atlanta, said most of the money was funneled to Ms. Schrenko’s 2002 gubernatorial campaign. She lost in the Republican primary to Sonny Perdue, now the governor.

Acting U.S. Attorney Sally Q. Yates announces the indictment of Linda C. Schrenko.
Sally Q. Yates, the acting U.S. attorney in Atlanta, announces the indictment of fomer state Superintendent Linda C. Schrenko at a Nov. 10 press conference. Ms. Schrenko and two associates are charged with stealing $600,000 in federal money. They have denied wrongdoing.
—John Bazemore/AP

The indictment says the defendants filed false campaign-finance-disclosure forms to cover up the alleged scheme. They said the money went to purchase computers at two schools for the deaf and for a summer program targeting gifted students, but the services allegedly were not delivered.

Ms. Schrenko, 54, was expected to surrender to authorities this week. Her lawyer, Pete J. Theodocion of Augusta, Ga., was not available for comment, but told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution that the former chief denies any wrongdoing.

Lawyers for the other defendants said they also denied wrongdoing. Mr. Temple was to turn himself in this week, and Mr. Botes was free last week on bail.

Georgia’s first Republican state schools chief, Ms. Schrenko frequently disagreed with members of the state school board who were appointed by Democratic governors. She also found herself at odds with state and national education groups.

Vol. 24, Issue 12, Page 4

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