Originally created 08/25/06

Schrenko's jail term nears

ATLANTA - Linda Schrenko, the former Augusta teacher who rose to become the first woman state superintendent of schools, is to report to federal prison by Sept. 11 or sooner.

Ms. Schrenko pleaded guilty to stealing $600,000 in federal funds in the care of the Georgia Department of Education she ran for eight years. Much of the money wound up in her failed 2002 campaign for governor.

On Thursday, her campaign manager, Richard Leonard, was sentenced in the scheme to hide the source of the funds.

Mr. Leonard, 44, of Augusta, was sentenced to one year of probation and a $3,000 fine for attempted witness tampering. He will also have to perform 72 hours of community service.

U.S. Attorney David Nahmias noted that Mr. Leonard pleaded guilty and also helped investigators once he was caught.

"This sentence reflects that Mr. Leonard accepted responsibility for his conduct and cooperated in the prosecution of others who were more culpable," Mr. Nahmias said.

Ms. Schrenko's lover and assistant superintendent, Merle Temple, also of Augusta, will be sentenced Sept. 11 for his role.

Also to be sentenced the same day will be Stephan Botes, a South African businessman who owned a computer company that was used to funnel the stolen funds with sham contracts.

Starting next month, Ms. Schrenko, 56, will be known by her eight-digit inmate number until the year 2014 when her eight-year sentence is complete. Federal inmates cannot be released early for good behavior.

Because there is no federal women's prison in Georgia, she has requested one in Tallahassee, Fla. Whether she winds up there will depend on the beds available, and the location won't be made public until after she's arrived, according to Mike Truman, spokesman for the Federal Bureau of Prisons.

"The bureau tries to get all inmates within 500 miles of their point of sentencing. That's usually near where the family is," he said.

When she arrives, Ms. Schrenko will be assigned a job, from scrubbing toilets and cutting grass to painting or other domestic chores.

She requested the chance to tutor her fellow inmates, but that may only happen if there is an opening for a teacher, Mr. Truman said.


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