Theology school suspects plead guilty to fraud in Columbus

Published: Sep. 29, 2022 at 6:22 PM EDT
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COLUMBUS, Ga. (WTVM) - The Apex School of Theology is now closed.

The school closed its doors after six employees, including Director Sandra Anderson, Administrative Assistant Kristen Parker, teachers Yolanda Thomas, Leo Frank Thomas, Dorothy Webb and Erica Montgomery, conspired to steal from the federal government.

“When I went and did the math and added up what had gone on with myself personally. It was $30,000,” Bernice Cofield.

Reverend Cofield attended the school from 2015 to 2019.

“It was a very traumatic experience for me because I was a senior when the school closed, and I only had one semester to graduate, and that put me behind one year being able to graduate,” she said.

And Cofield says people were always talking about what may have been an extensive scheme to steal money.

“You hear things, as students, that things are going on and going wrong, but when you are not directly involved, you don’t know that it’s true.”

But today, the group said that it was true, appearing before a judge and hearing how much prison time they could face once they entered a plea deal with the government.

For Cofield, she says she hates to see them all face so much time.

“I pray for them because that is very hard to leave the lifestyle they had and go into prison for so many years.”

Some of the defendants, in this case, could face as little as 20 years and as much as 100 years in prison with no possibility of parole.

They will be sentenced on Dec. 15.