A Columbus woman pleaded guilty Tuesday morning to charges of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity and theft in office. She admitted that she took money from the Department of Education to open a charter school, but never did and kept the money.
Wendy Marshall, 39, was originally scheduled to stand trial Tuesday in Delaware County Common Pleas Court to face a charge of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a first-degree felony; theft in office, a third-degree felony; theft, a fourth-degree felony; money laundering, a third-degree felony; two felony charges of securing writings by deception; passing bad checks, a fourth-degree felony; telecommunications fraud, a third-degree felony; and two counts of filing incomplete, false and fraudulent returns, a fifth-degree felony.
However, on Friday a judgment entry was filed that scheduled a change of plea hearing for Tuesday morning.
At the hearing Robert S. Smith, representing the State of Ohio on behalf of the Auditor of State’s Office, detailed the plea agreement the state had reached with Marshall. Smith said Marshall would plead guilty one count of engaging in a pattern of corrupt activity, a second-degree felony; a count of theft in office, a third-degree felony and one count of securing writings by deception, a fifth-degree felony.
As part of the agreement, the remaining charges would be dismissed and Marshall would be required to pay restitution.
Smith said that in 2012, Marshall filed paperwork with the Ohio Department of Education to open a charter school in Delaware County. Smith said due to an error on the part of the department of education, Marshall was prematurely sent $88,750 to start the school.
“I got way in over my head and took some funds that I didn’t pay back,” Marshall told Delaware County Common Pleas Judge Everett Krueger at the hearing. Marshall said she used money to pay employees of the school but the plans fell through and Marshall never paid back the money. “It’s my fault. I was the leader.”
Smith said Marshall also used some of the money to buy a 2014 Mercedes Benz and when the department of education learned the school had fallen through they asked for the money back.
Smith added that Marshall also went to a branch of the Delaware County Bank and got a loan for $4,999, but lied on her load form and falsified her income to get the loan.
As part of the agreement, Marshall will be required to pay the $88,750 to the department of education and pay $4,999 to Delaware County Bank. The prosecutors will then recommend a sentence of three to four years in prison for the charges.
Krueger accepted Marshall’s plea, ordered a pre-sentence investigation and scheduled a sentencing hearing for Nov. 28 at 9:30 a.m.
Marshall was indicted on felony charges on March 9 by a Delaware County grand jury and entered a not-guilty plea at an arraignment on March 17.
Marshall was out on bond Tuesday awaiting her sentencing.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.