Schrenko campaign goes from broke to thousands in 1 year

By: Laurie Ott
By: Laurie Ott

Linda Schrenko's gubernatorial campaign went from being broke to having thousands in cash in the summer of 2002.

Schrenko's campaign had $113 in the bank in August of 2001...but by that time one year later, hundreds of thousands in cash had come in. Prosecution witnesses detailed Monday, May 8 how some of it got there.

Shawn Neal testified at the start of the second week of the trial for Linda Schrenko. Neal was the office manager at Dr. Katherine Cooper's dental practice on Wheeler Road in 2002.

She testified Schrenko and Merle Temple came in one day with checks they wanted signed.

Neal testified Schrenko personally told her to sign the backs of checks, telling her it was okay, even sliding the checks across the table for her to endorse.

Neal testified she endorsed several checks to both her and her husband, Jason Neal.

She said Schrenko told her it was as if Neal were working for Schrenko and that later, Neal would be asked to take part in a focus group or survey. Neal testified that never took place.

Neal also testified that others working in Dr. Cooper's office, including Becky Russell and Kristi Secord, also endorsed checks...and that Diane Paist, who appears on the payee line of checks, also worked there.

Schrenko attorney Pete Theodocian did ask Neal if either Schrenko or Dr. Cooper ever asked her to lie, and she said no.

Campaign treasurer Harry Dolnick testified for the prosecution next, and he said the campaign bounced checks in early 2002...but that changed in June and July of that year.

Dolnick testified that when large contributions started coming in, he asked for details on where they were coming from, and was told by Richard Leonard, the campaign manager, that the details would come later.

Dolnick also testified he wrote a $3000 check to the Schrenko campaign, saying he was told the campaign had received a cash contribution he needed to get into the bank.

The last witness of the day was the campaign manager Richard Leonard, who provided background on how he ended up with the job--one that he said was supposed to be temporary. He testified he took the job at the behest of Merle Temple.

Leonard's testimony continues in the morning, and defense attorneys have indicated in opening arguments and cross-examination that they plan to pin much of the blame for the scheme on him.

We want to emphasize that Shawn Neal was never under any criminal suspicion, and she cooperated fully with the government.

News 12 spoke with Neal Monday evening and here's what she had to say:

"I did not receive any money for this, nor did my husband. I feel like a victim because Ms. Schrenko took advantage of me and did not fully disclose her motive. I'd also like to clarify I was an office manager and not a hygienist in the summer of 2002 when Ms. Schrenko came into our office."


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