Former Miss Florida Pageant Director Imprisoned for Fraud
Mary Wickersham, the former executive director of the Miss Florida pageant, has been sentenced to more than a year in federal prison for stealing hundreds of thousands of dollars from the organization. The 77-year-old Wickersham, also known as Mary Sullivan, was sentenced in Miami federal court on Friday and been ordered to pay $243,000 in restitution.
The Miss Florida Scholarship Program appoints the state winner who then goes on to compete in the Miss America pageant, which the state has won twice. Wickersham began serving as the executive director of the Miss Florida Scholarship Program in 2002. However, in 2018, new leadership discovered financial irregularities leading to an investigation, and Wickersham was eventually arrested last year.
According to a criminal complaint, Wickersham established a Florida corporation named Miss Florida LLC in 2011 and used it to open a bank account in the same name. Without the knowledge or consent of the Miss Florida Scholarship Program, she redirected money to the Miss Florida LLC bank account, which she exclusively controlled. Prosecutors said Wickersham used her position to solicit donations from the program’s recurring business sponsors and donors, claiming the money would be used to fund scholarships for the contestants. However, she instead used the money for her own personal benefit.
Earlier this year, Wickersham pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud while six other charges were dropped. Although Wickersham’s defense attorney requested a sentence of home confinement, the judge sentenced her to serve time in federal prison.
As the Miss Florida Scholarship Program provides educational and financial assistance to young women across the state, Wickersham’s action undermined the organization’s mission and the trust of the sponsors and donors who volunteered their resources to help young women in Florida.
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