The Columbia County resident who went from being the first woman elected to statewide public office to falling in disgrace in a corruption trial is now out of prison and headed to a halfway house.
Linda Schrenko, 63, of Appling, served all but about six months of the prison term she received in U.S. District Court in Atlanta for embezzling about $600,000 in federal funds entrusted to the state Department of Education while she was the Georgia state school superintendent.
According to trial testimony in 2006, Schrenko and her deputy superintendent Merle Temple funneled money that was earmarked to help physically disabled children into her failed campaign for governor in 2002.
Temple, South African businessman Stephan Botes and his employee Peter Steyn also were charged for taking part of the scheme. Only Steyn was acquitted of criminal charges.
Schrenko pled guilty to the charge after the trial was underway, and Temple, then a political activist in Augusta, also pled guilty when faced with Schrenko’s willingness to testify against him.
Temple has already completed his eight-year prison term.
Prior to winning the election as state school superintendent in 1998, Schrenko had mounted a failed campaign for Columbia County school superintendent before the position became one hired by the school board. A veteran educator, she previously served as principal of South Columbia Elementary School.