A Columbus woman was sentenced to three years in prison Monday for 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 Sherre Marshall, 40, was originally scheduled to stand trial on Oct. 18 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, before her trial could begin she reached a plea agreement with prosecutors and filed for a change of plea hearing.
Marshall pleaded 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.
Robert Smith, prosecutor from the Auditor of State’s Office, 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.
Smith said Marshall used some of the money to purchase a $40,000 Mercedes-Benz, airline tickets, rental cars, sports equipment and other personal items.
At the sentencing hearing Krueger sentenced her to three years in prison for the charges and ordered her to pay back the $88,750 and an additional $4,999 of restitution to Delaware County Bank.
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.
She was in the Delaware County Jail Tuesday awaiting transport to prison.
“This tough sentence by Judge Krueger speaks to the outrageousness of this rip-off. The school never opened for heaven’s sake,” Auditor David Yost said in a news release. “Taxpayers should be relieved that the money is being repaid because those dollars were earmarked for educating our children, not personal luxuries like a new Mercedes and travel.”
“Some people mistakenly believe they can steal from taxpayers of this state and get away with it,” Yost said. “They’re wrong.”
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.