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Final Conspirator in Georgia Tech GIFT Program Theft Pleads Guilty

PRESS ADVISORY

Final Conspirator in Georgia Tech GIFT Program Theft Pleads Guilty

April 18, 2011

Shalunda Reed pled guilty today to one count of Conspiracy to Defraud the State (O.C.G.A. § 16-10-21) and two counts of Theft by Taking (O.C.G.A. § 16-8-2) before Judge Walter Lovett in Fulton Superior Court.

The charges against Reed stem from a conspiracy with former Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) employee Merideth Durrah to steal $10,200.00 from Georgia Tech. Durrah was a program coordinator for Georgia Tech’s Georgia Intern Fellowship for Teachers (GIFT) program. In that capacity, she processed checks for public school math and science teachers who participated in summer internships with Georgia Tech professors. Georgia Tech’s Department of Internal Auditing was alerted to possible fraud in the program when a woman named Shalonda Reed contacted the school, indicating that her social security number and name had been used on checks issued by GIFT program. Ms. Reed had never participated in the GIFT program, and in fact lives in another state.

Investigation revealed that in August of 2008, Durrah created false paperwork to indicate that Shalunda Reed had worked in the GIFT program, and was entitled to receive a $5,100.00 check. Reed then endorsed the check, deposited it into her bank account and split the proceeds with Durrah. In July of 2009, Durrah and Reed repeated the fraud, resulting in a second check for $5,100.00 being issued in Reed’s name. The second check was endorsed by Reed, and deposited into her account, with Reed and Durrah again dividing the proceeds.

Reed received a 10 year probated sentence. As a special condition of her probation she must complete 250 hours community service. She must also pay joint and several restitution to Georgia Tech in the amount of $10,200.00.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Schwartz prosecuted Reed on the behalf of the State of Georgia. The case was investigated by Director Phil Hurd, Suntaree Coombs, Patrick Jenkins, Randy Pearman and Terry Nolan of the Georgia Tech Department of Internal Auditing, and by Georgia Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Wesley Horne. Codefendant Tara Crystal Anderson pled guilty March 23, 2011, and Merideth Durrah pled guilty April 11, 2011.