A woman who once led the University of South Carolina’s Center for Manufacturing and Technology (CMAT) is heading to prison after her sentencing on a wire fraud charge.
The US Attorney’s Office announced Tuesday 62-year-old Gail Shurling had been sentenced by a federal judge to more than two years in prison and must also repay more than $335,000 in in restitution.
USC discontinued the manufacturing assistance program and fired Shurling last year, school officials stated soon after the former director’s guilty plea in June. She had been facing up to 20 years in prison.
US District Judge Mary Geiger Lewis sentenced her to 27 months, plus 3 years supervised release.
The CMAT received funding from the South Carolina Manufacturing Extension Partnership to purportedly help businesses with executive leadership development, engineering services and product testing, business consulting and export programs.
But prosecutors argued Shurling submitted fraudulent documents to obtain grant money during her time as CMAT’s director. As part of her guilty plea, Shurling admitted approving contracts and making payments to shell corporations controlled by friends, family members, and herself for work that was not completed. Prosecutors said the former director submitted approximately $336,000 worth of fraudulent documentation.
“We will continue to pursue those who lie, cheat and steal from the public,” United States Attorney Bill Nettles said in a statement.
The FBI began investigating CMAT after a U.S. Commerce Department inspector general’s report flagged $3.4 million in questionable expenditures by the SC Manufacturing Extension Partnership, according to a 2009 McClatchy Newspapers report. The audit claimed South Carolina’s group could not properly support how it had spent the grants. The agency tried to recoup $1.1 million of that money. Investigators were able to link at least $336,000 of directly to Shurling.