Georgia Department of Law, from the office of Samuel S. Olens, Attorney General


Former Georgia Tech Employee Pleads Guilty to Stealing Over $15,000 from the University

April 12, 2011

Former Georgia Institute of Technology (Georgia Tech) employee Merideth Durrah pled guilty yesterday to one count of False Statements (O.C.G. A. § 16-10-20), four counts of Theft by Taking (O.C.G.A. § 16-8-2) and two counts of Conspiracy to Defraud the State (O.C.G.A. § 16-10-21) before Judge Walter Lovett in Fulton County Superior Court.

The charges against Durrah stem from her employment with Georgia Tech as a program coordinator for the 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.

An investigation revealed that between July 2007 and October 2008, Durrah processed four checks totaling $15,250.00 for individuals who had never participated in the GIFT program. In each instance the checks were either deposited into Durrah’s personal account, or negotiated by an associate of Durrah, with the proceeds being split between the two. In December 2010, the Fulton County Grand Jury indicted Durrah, Shalunda Reed and Tara Crystal Anderson, Durrah’s niece, on charges related to the checks.

Durrah received a 10 year probated sentence. As a special condition of her probation she must complete 1,000 hours community service and pay a $2,500.00 fine. She must also pay joint and several restitution to Georgia Tech in the amount of $15,200.00. Durrah, who was allowed First Offender treatment, is barred from employment with the State of Georgia during the period of her sentence.

Senior Assistant Attorney General Kimberly Schwartz prosecuted Durrah on 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. Co-defendant Anderson pled guilty March 23, 2011. Shalunda Reed’s charges are still pending.