A secretary for Ron Thomas School of Cosmetology in Baltimore was sentenced yesterday to serve one year of probation for her role in an elaborate student loan fraud scheme that bilked federal taxpayers out of nearly $1.5 million.
Mary Wehry, 56, of Joppa was considered the least culpable of the players in the scheme, earning her the most lenient sentence U.S. District Judge Andre M. Davis has handed down against the defendants so far.
Wehry pleaded guilty to fraud charges for falsifying Social Security documents, high school transcripts and other records, which were included in files designed to prove that hundreds of students no longer attending the school were still enrolled.
Administrators then collected and kept the cash, court records show.
The school, which closed in 1995, had three locations in Baltimore.
This month, two other school workers -- secretary Mary Innis and bookkeeper Patricia Kress -- were sentenced to three years of probation, the first six months of it confined to their homes.
Stiffer sentences are expected against the owners of the school, Ron and Von Thomas, who have pleaded guilty to their roles in the scheme.
Court records show that Von Thomas was the "mastermind." She ordered employees to falsify records, and she also falsified attendance documents and test scores for students who had dropped out or never attended the school.
The Thomases are scheduled to be sentenced Oct. 3.
Pub Date: 8/27/97