Two former officials with Florida A&M University and Franklin County’s literacy program were arrested Thursday on charges of scamming a federal grant program.
A 21-count federal indictment charged Patricia Walker McGill, 60, of Tallahassee, and Bonnie Segree, 68, of Eastpoint, with conspiracy, theft and mail fraud. Both were released on bond after making a first court appearance.
McGill, who had been director of FAMU’s Institute on Urban Policy and Commerce, and Segree, who headed the literacy program, are accused of using an education grant money to pay individuals for writing and submitting the grant applications although that is prohibited.
The indictment also alleges McGill required grant recipients to kick back part of the federal money to her and Segree and that she used grant money in Calhoun and Franklin counties to pay institute and state employees.
Both are charged with submitting fraudulent invoices to disguise the misuse of grant money and causing checks to be issued to themselves of more than $125,000 and to others.
The U.S. Public Defender’s Office, which was appointed to represent Segree, did not immediately return a call seeking comment. Court records did not list a lawyer for McGill, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Neither woman had a local telephone listing in her name.
Prosecutors said the maximum penalty for McGill is 350 years in prison and fines of about $5 million if convicted on all charges. For Segree it’s 140 years and $2 million.
They were arrested after a two-year investigation by the FBI, U.S. Department of Education and Florida Department of Financial Services.
“Theft of educational funds and violation of the public trust undermine institutions at the heart of our communities,” said FBI Special Agent in Charge Michael J. Folmar. “The FBI continues to prioritize these types of investigations.”
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