Crime & Courts

Woman who tried to steal part of banker’s $20M gift to Kansas university gets probation

The former bookkeeper of a deceased banker has been sentenced to probation and ordered to make donations to a Kansas university after trying to steal half of a $20 million gift to the school.

Wanda Oborny, 66, was sentenced Monday to a year of probation and must make a $1,200 donation to Fort Hays State University, U.S. Attorney Stephen McAllister said in a news release. She previously pleaded guilty in March to one count of mail fraud after federal prosecutors originally charged her with seven counts.

Oborny had admitted in her plea that in 2013 she mailed a false codicil to the will of deceased banker Earl Field. He had left the majority of his $20 million estate to his alma mater, but the fake change to his will would have given his former part-time bookkeeper half of the estate and a quarter to his former lawyer, with the remaining quarter to the university.

Field and his wife, Winona “Nonie” Field, had no children and bequeathed the vast majority of their estate to FHSU. The money was to go to the university’s foundation to fund music and athletic scholarships for students. He died in 2013; she died in 2009.

The university announced earlier this year, after about six years of legal battles, that it had received the largest gift in school history.

“At the time of Earl’s passing, their estate gift to Fort Hays State University was valued at approximately $20 million,” said Jason Williby, president and CEO of the FHSU Foundation. “Their gift is unequivocally life-changing for our students, but it is also the largest single gift ever made to FHSU.”

“The Fields Estate gift will be counted toward FHSU’s Journey campaign and will support student scholarships in perpetuity for the areas of art, athletics and music.”

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