Scholarship Cash Used to Pay for Exec's Dating Sites: Prosecutors

Mary Wickersham is also accused of using pageant scholarship funds for maid services, meals out
By Jenn Gidman,  Newser Staff
Posted Feb 23, 2022 10:15 AM CST
Prosecutors: Ex-Scholarship Fund Exec Stole Cash for Dating Sites
Stock photo.   (Getty Images/JadeThaiCatwalk)

The Miss Florida Scholarship Program was designed to distribute funds to young women coming up through the beauty pageant world, but prosecutors say that for Mary Wickersham, an ex-executive director for the nonprofit, it was a personal piggy bank used to buy an array of goods and services for herself. NBC News reports on the Tuesday arrest and indictment of 76-year-old Mary Wickersham—who also used the aliases Mary Sullivan and Mary Harvey, per a release from the US Attorney's Office for the Southern District of Florida—who's been hit with seven counts of wire fraud, accused of stealing from both corporate and individual donors to the scholarship program.

Prosecutors say that Wickersham, who helmed the Miss Florida Scholarship Program and had access to the nonprofit's donor and sponsor list, opened up an account with Bank of America for the fake "Miss Florida" company. Then, the indictment alleges, when money came in for the real scholarship program, Wickersham would alter the checks and funnel the cash into her secret account instead of the legit one. Prosecutors say she then used that money to take care of various "personal expenses, including utilities, shopping, home goods, [a] maid cleaning service, online dating fees, and dining out."

Among the organizations Wickersham is accused of scamming are the Children's Miracle Network, which, per NBC, raises funds for hospitals, and the conservation group Everglades Foundation. The Florida Department of Law Enforcement says in a release that an investigation began when it got word from the legitimate scholarship nonprofit of missing funds. The release notes that law enforcement agents believe Wickersham, over "several years," stole at least $100,000 in donations. (More fraud stories.)

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