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Guilty Plea In MSU Healing Fund Fraud

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There’s been a guilty plea in connection with fraudulent claims to a fund set up by Michigan State University for the treatment of sexual assault survivors.

The Healing Assistance Fund was set up to help Larry Nassar assault survivors pay for counseling. Seven claims were determined to be fraudulent. In all, those cases amounted to more than a half-million dollars. The fund was shut down for a time because of the fraud allegations.

This week, Tammy Johnson pleaded guilty to a count of using false pretenses to obtain money from the fund. The Lansing State Journal reports that Johnson admitted that she was not assaulted by Nassar.

Valerie von Frank is the parent of a survivor and founder of Parents of Sister Survivors Engage (POSSE). She says the damage done to the fund has never been repaired, adding “I would like to see these defendants understand the consequences of what they did.”

Von Frank also says she isn’t hoping the defendants get jail time. “What we’d like to see," she concludes, "is the money that they’re making restitution go back into the Healing Fund for the sister survivors, and not just go to MSU in general. It was from the fund that they took it, and it should be returned to the fund.”

Johnson must pay restitution of more than $75-thousand dollars. She will be sentenced in June.

The other six defendants were offered the same deal.

Scott Pohl is a general assignment news reporter and produces news features and interviews. He is also an alternate local host on NPR's "Morning Edition."
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