Schrenko enters plea deal with prosecutors

By: Laurie Ott
By: Laurie Ott

"I just want to go home and be a retired old woman," Linda Schrenko said upon her arrival at court Wednesday morning.

But Linda Schrenko won't be spending much time at her home.

Federal prison is in the future for the former Georgia state school superintendent.

You saw it first on News 12: Schrenko pled guilty to conspiracy and fraud before a federal judge Wednesday for stealing money meant for school children.

It was a bombshell in her federal trial.

Schrenko pleaded guilty to those two felony charges, and faces 8 years in federal prison.

Formal sentencing is scheduled for July 12.

For the first time, Schrenko admitted her part in a scheme to funnel federal education money to her 2002 failed gubernatorial campaign.

News 12's Laurie Ott broke the investigation into the scheme two and a half years ago.

She was in the Atlanta courtroom when Linda Schrenko made her plea today.

This guilty plea means Schrenko--the woman who headed up a $7 billion education budget and was on the short list for secretary of education--will now spend 8 years in a federal prison cell.

Wednesday morning, Linda Schrenko didn't let on she was about to plead guilty to crimes she's been saying she didn't commit since she was indicted in 2004.

She told reporters this when asked what was next: "I have no idea."

But once inside, Schrenko, with her attorney Pete Theodocian at her side, told Judge Clarence Cooper she had freely entered into a plea agreement with prosecutors.

In the agreement, Schrenko pled guilty to counts 1 and 22 against her. These were the conspiracy and money laundering charges, meaning Schrenko admitted her role in helping steal hundreds of thousands in federal education money meant for Georgia school children in the Governor's Honors Program and at the School for the Deaf.

Schrenko told the judge she had sleep apnea and a heart condition and she was on 12-15 medications, but that she was coherent and understood the agreement.

She also said she understood her sentence for her crimes would be 8 years in a federal prison.

A sad end to public life for a woman who'd hoped to retire into obscurity.

"I just hope I get to go home and play with my bassets. I don't care about a legacy...I just want to go home and be a retired old woman," she said Wednesday morning.

Linda Schrenko will be in her mid 60's when she's let out of federal prison.

The trial for her two South African co-defendants continues tomorrow, and as part of the plea agreement Schrenko will have to testify to help prosecutors try and gain their convictions.

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