Principal guilty of wire, mail fraud faces 20 years, fine


A former Western Maryland principal was found guilty in federal court yesterday of stealing more than $18,000 from her school by using false invoices and keeping money from travel reimbursements.

Diane L. McFarland, 52, of Frostburg was convicted on four counts of wire and mail fraud by a U.S. District Court jury. McFarland, who was principal of Cash Valley Elementary School in LaVale, never paid back teachers at her school for costs incurred during conference trips as part of the federally funded Success for All program.

McFarland also made up fraudulent invoices seeking personal reimbursement for materials purchased from the program for three years beginning in 2002.

Sentencing for McFarland is set for Sept. 15., and she will remain free on bail until then. McFarland could receive a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

McFarland was surrounded by a number of school administrators and family members who consoled her shortly after the verdict was read.

"We're disappointed in the verdict," McFarland's lawyer Fred Warren Barrett said. "We had a strong case. We called more witnesses than the government."

Barrett said he plans to appeal.

McFarland was nearly $50,000 in debt in April 2004 when she took nearly $12,000 during a two-month span.

McFarland was fired from the Allegany County school district last year.

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