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Former Pageant Director Stole 'Hundreds of Thousands' of Dollars Intended for Scholarship Program Mary Wickersham, 77, was sentenced to 15 months in prison and ordered to pay $243,000 in restitution for her crime.

By Madeline Garfinkle

Opinions expressed by Entrepreneur contributors are their own.

Mary Wickersham, 77, was the executive director of the Miss Florida Scholarship Program from 2002 until she left her position in 2018. After her departure, new leadership began to notice missing funds and financial irregularities.

Following an investigation, Wickersham (also known as Mary Sullivan) was arrested in 2022, and was sentenced to 15 months in prison this Wednesday after pleading guilty to stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars intended for the scholarship program over the course of seven years. The former pageant director must pay $243,000 in restitution for her crime.

"Ms. Wickersham not only stole charitable donations from the Scholarship Program but also from two local charitable organizations and a local business affiliated with Miss Florida," Troy Walker, Florida Department of Law Enforcement special agent in charge, said after her arrest in 2022.

Related: Former Doctor Sentenced To 7 Years in Prison For Insurance Scheme Related To 1-800-GET-THIN

In 2011, Wickersham established a corporation called Miss Florida LLC, and opened a bank account under the same name. She then used the account to redirect hundreds of thousands of dollars to her account and used her position as director to solicit donations from sponsors and donors under the impression that the funds were going to the scholarship program.

"In fact, Wickersham used the money for her own personal use and gain," the U.S. Attorney's Office said in a press release.

Donations intended for scholarship recipients were spent on everything from shopping sprees, utilities, online dating fees, home goods, a cleaning service, and dining out.

Related: Usain Bolt Reportedly Lost Millions in $1.2 Billion Jamaican Wealth Management Fraud

Madeline Garfinkle

News Writer

Madeline Garfinkle is a News Writer at Entrepreneur.com. She is a graduate from Syracuse University, and received an MFA from Columbia University. 

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