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Former Miss Florida scholarship director accused of stealing $100,000, spending it on shopping sprees and dating sites


Mary Wickersham had a fairly lavish lifestyle, federal prosecutors said. The 76-year-old South Florida woman allegedly paid for a housekeeper to tidy her home, often dined out and spent thousands on home goods, shopping sprees and online dating sites.

The issue was that the money used to pay for those things didn’t belong to Wickersham, but to the Miss Florida Scholarship Program she was in charge of leading, according to prosecutors.

For years, Wickersham was the executive director of the nonprofit organization, an annual beauty pageant that awards financial aid to participants and winners to advance their education. But from December 2011 to June 2018, she stole about $100,000 from the organization, according to prosecutors.

Mary Wickersham, who also goes by the names Mary Sullivan and Mary Harvey, has since been indicted on seven charges involving defrauding the organization and its individual donors by opening a separate company under a similar name to divert donations and contributions meant for the Miss Florida Scholarship Program.

Those funds, federal prosecutors said in a criminal complaint unsealed this week in the Southern District of Florida, never made it to the organization’s bank account but instead funded Wickersham’s way of life.

“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,” Florida Department of Law Enforcement special agent Troy Walker said in a news release. “Agents believe the scam occurred over several years.”

Adam Goble Franzen, an attorney representing Wickersham, did not immediately respond to messages from The Washington Post late Wednesday. Wickersham could not immediately be reached for comment.

The Miss Florida Scholarship Program said in a statement that Wickersham resigned in July 2018.

Prosecutors said Wickersham — who had access to the pageant program’s financial information, as well as its sponsors and donors — in December 2011 created a company called Miss Florida LLC, which she then used to open a business account at a bank.

Wickersham, who lives in Miami-Dade County, intercepted donations for the Miss Florida Scholarship Program and altered the money orders or checks so she could deposit them into her “Miss Florida” account, prosecutors said. The money was used to cover her lifestyle expenses, according to court records.

On Tuesday, Wickersham was arrested and made her first appearance in Miami federal court. A judge set her bond at $100,000. If found guilty of all charges, she could face up to 20 years in prison.

She is scheduled to appear again in court on Monday at 10 a.m., court records show.