BIRMINGHAM, Ala. ― A South Carolina lawyer pleaded guilty to bank fraud in a scam involving construction of a $14 million, 40,000-square-foot sorority house at the University of Alabama, prosecutors said Wednesday.
Jennifer Elizabeth Meehan, 39, of Sandy Springs, South Carolina, pleaded guilty Tuesday during a federal court hearing in Huntsville to submitting false invoices for equipment and furnishings for the new Gamma Phi Beta sorority house in Tuscaloosa, according to a statement from the U.S. attorney in Birmingham.
The sorority’s house, which opened last year, was constructed during a more than $200 million building boom for Greek-letter social groups at Alabama, which boasts the nation’s largest fraternity and sorority community.
Meehan was a member of Gamma Phi Beta while attending Alabama, and she was serving as president of its housing corporation when the sorority was building a new house from 2013 to 2015. Meehan submitted false invoices for about $375,000 in furnishings and equipment for the mansion-like house and collected the money for herself from a fraudulent business account, prosecutors said.
Meehan described the house and the growth of Greek housing in general during an interview with The Associated Press in 2013, saying her sorority needed to move into the huge home because it outgrew its old, 12,000-square-foot house.
“We’ve had record numbers. We had the largest new-member class in the country,” Meehan said. “We really think this will be a home away from home.”
Prosecutors said they will recommend a 20-month prison term at Meehan’s sentencing hearing, which hasn’t been scheduled by U.S. District Judge Madeline Haikala. Meehan already has forfeited $234,648 and will pay restitution of $34,815 to Greek Resource Services, a contractor that handles finances for Greek groups at Alabama, prosecutors said.
Meehan’s law license has been suspended, South Carolina Bar records show. She has been practicing since 2008.