Loose end in Schrenko spending wrapped up with civil suit

By: Laurie Ott
By: Laurie Ott

The Columbia County man who pleaded guilty to lying to investigators in the Linda Schrenko case has been sentenced.

Miller Finley was one of Ms. Schrenko's deputy superintendents at the Georgia Department of Education.

Finley received three years probation, a $4000 fine and 140 hours of community service from the judge in Atlanta this morning.

Finley, along with Ms. Schrenko, is also among those being sued by the State of Georgia.

Only on 12: the Attorney General's office says you got ripped off--and they're asking for your money back.

When former state school superintendent Linda Schrenko sat down with News 12's Laurie Ott last week, there was one loose end to wrap up.

Back in November 2003, News 12 had investigated $663,000 Ms. Schrenko had spent according to auditors, with taxpayers getting nothing for their money.

Among the checks she'd written in $50,000 increments was a $49,500 check to CallingPost, a Martinez-based company.

During the July 14 interview, Schrenko said she knew very little about the money she'd spent...and had already told the attorney general's office the same.

"So the check for the calling system for the school of the blind, this is something you don't have any idea about."

"No."

"That's not something you know they needed."

"No."

"Or wanted."

"No."

"Or got."

"Or got, no. I don't," Ms. Schrenko said.

The owner of CallingPost, Phil Alexander, told News 12 back in the fall of 2003 that he did provide a calling system for the Georgia Academy for the Blind in Macon.

"We did provide the service for them," Alexander said. "And we demonstrated it, like I said we did tests, signed up some people there, showed them how, gave them the password and showed them how to use it."

"Did they ever use it?" we asked.

"I don't think they ever did," Alexander said. "And I'm not sure why they didn't. Other schools have used it."

But when we asked Academy director Dr. Mildred Howard whether the school ever used the system, she sent us this one line email:

"We never had the system installed."

And now the Attorney General's office, on behalf of the Georgia Department of Education, is suing Mr. Alexander, Ms. Schrenko, and Schrenko's former deputy superintendents Merle Temple and Miller Finley to get the money back.

The lawsuit alleges Alexander knew the $50,000 price he quoted to Temple was not fair or reasonable.

It also alleges the contract was illegal, that those services were unnecessary, and that the contract was never performed.

News 12 contacted Mr. Alexander today. He said he couldn't comment because he hadn't seen the lawsuit.

The state should be getting the rest of its $614,000 dollars back.

Ms. Schrenko and Mr. Botes will have to pay part of that back. Mr. Temple has already paid $190,000 restitution.


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