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A businesswoman and her son plead not guilty to embezzling over $2 million from the state
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Nancy New leaving federal court Thursday
Associated Press

A Mississippi mother and her son face federal charges for conspiring to embezzle more than $2 million from the state Department of Education.  The pair pled not guilty in court. 

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In a federal indictment, Nancy New and her son Zachary are accused of multiple charges including wire fraud, money laundering and aggravated identity theft, for falsifying claims to the state Department of Education.  The pair operated the private New Summit School in Jackson.   Yesterday they appeared in federal court and pled not guilty to the 17-count indictment.   Professor Matt Steffey with Mississippi College School of Law explains. 

“This indictment alleges that the defendants made teachers out of thin air, made teachers out of non-teacher employees, made teachers out of former teachers, made up students that didn’t exist, to receive payment from the state,” said Steffey. 

According to the federal indictment, the News committed the crimes between 2017 and 2020, receiving more than $2 million from the Mississippi Adequate Education Program. The News’ attorneys say they haven’t seen anything that would prove a crime occurred and their clients look forward to going to court. All the charges the pair face could mean up to 210 years in prison if they’re found guilty. 

“It shows the gravity of the charges where most of them carry up to 20 years in prison, carry fines up to a quarter of a million dollars.  The prosecution is also seeking restitution and forfeiture of assets to try to recoup the money,” said Steffey.

The News’ trial is set for May 3. The judge instructed them not to have any contact with potential witnesses including current or former employees.  The state auditor released a statement saying this case is another step toward justice for the taxpayers.