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Woman makes guilty plea for phony law school

Banks, lenders and vendors among victims of scheme

Tuesday, September 28, 2004

By Torsten Ove,
Pittsburgh Post-Gazette

An ex-convict who tried to start a bogus law school in Penn Hills with her lawyer friend pleaded guilty yesterday in federal court to criminal conspiracy and bank fraud.

Lynne Lamar, 51, of Plum, admitted that she and Rosanne K. Diehl, 53, of Braddock, who has also pleaded guilty, defrauded banks, lenders and vendors through the National Endowment Program, a company they incorporated purportedly to get a nonaccredited law school off the ground on Laketon Road.

Federal prosecutors said Lamar and Diehl used NEP as a front for various types of fraud.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Brendon Conway said the pair defrauded a lender who gave NEP and Lamar money based on false representations. They also defrauded vendors that supplied the company by writing more than $100,000 in bad checks.

Lamar also defrauded or tried to defraud banks by submitting loan applications that were full of lies, Conway said. In addition, she submitted false tax returns, leases and other documents to the banks and lied in the loan application that she was a lawyer when she isn't.

She also said she had worked for NEP during the years when she was actually in prison on a previous fraud conviction.

Diehl has pleaded guilty to the same conspiracy charge and is awaiting sentencing Oct. 26. Lamar's sentencing is set for Dec. 17.

The investigation of the two women and the law school goes back several years.

In 2001, Allegheny County Detective Daniel Meinert charged the women with stealing the $112,300 they received from a Fox Chapel doctor as a loan to buy a former supermarket, which Diehl and Lamar said they wanted to use for the law school.

An affidavit said Lamar and Diehl told the doctor they were trying to raise money for NEP, and that Diehl was supposed to be the dean of the school and Lamar her assistant.

The doctor bought into the idea, but later filed suit to get his money back. Meinert's investigation developed into the federal case.

Authorities have described Lamar as a con artist with a history of writing bad checks and fraud.

Lamar also has a history of filing meritless lawsuits.

While Lamar was serving a jail term in 2001 in a previous fraud case investigated by Meinert, she defaulted on the mortgage for the Brierwood Lane house that she shared with Rickey Carter. The mortgage company moved to foreclose.

Lamar claimed in a federal suit that the company was discriminating against her because she's black.

She later named Meinert as a defendant, too, because she said his prosecution of her was "bogus" and that he conspired to take away her house.

In 2002, she filed another complaint involving the property, this one an attempt to block a sheriff's sale. She lost, and the sale went through.