Saturday Sep 23, 2023

Former Miss Florida scholarship exec accused of stealing $100K for dating sites, maid services

A former executive director of the Miss Florida Scholarship Program has been indicted on fraud charges after prosecutors said she stole at least $100,000 from the organization and spent it on personal shopping, maid cleaning service and online dating fees.

Mary Wickersham, 76, made her first appearance in federal court in Miami on a seven-count indictment charging her with defrauding corporate and individual donors, the U.S. Attorney’s Office Southern District of Florida announced Tuesday.

The Miss Florida Scholarship Program is a non-for-profit that raises money to provide scholarships to young women through pageants.

While serving as executive director, Wickersham allegedly opened a company under the name “Miss Florida” in December 2011 and used it to open a business account at Bank of America, all without notifying the Board of Directors of the Miss Florida Scholarship Program, according to the indictment. 

She then allegedly solicited donations and contributions on behalf of the program from its sponsors and donors, but then “altered donor checks” and deposited the money into her “Miss Florida” account, the indictment said.

“Wickersham used the money to pay for her personal expenses, including utilities, shopping, home goods, maid cleaning service, online dating fees, and dining out, it is alleged,” prosecutors said.

Wickersham — who is also known as Mary Sullivan, and Mary Harvey — allegedly defrauded the Children’s Miracle Network, which raises money for hospitals, and the Everglades Foundation, which seeks to restore and protect the Everglades.

She allegedly added words “Miss Florida Pageant” on donation checks made payable to Children’s Miracle Network, to deposit funds into the scam account, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) said in a news release.

The state agency began its case after receiving information from the Miss Florida Scholarship Program about missing funds. 

“Agents believe Wickersham stole at least $100,000 in donations,” the FDLE said in the release. 

She was arrested Tuesday on seven counts of wire fraud, according to the agency.

“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. Agents believe the scam occurred over several years,” FDLE Miami Special Agent in Charge Troy Walker said.

Lawyer information for Wickersham was not immediately available.

The Miss Florida Scholarship Program did not immediately reply to NBC News’ request for comment.

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