WICHITA - Wanda Oborny, Hays, will avoid incarceration on a mail fraud count linked to her attempt to take about $10 million from the estate of her late employer.
In a brief court proceeding Monday morning in the federal courthouse in Wichita, U.S. District Judge J. Thomas Marten imposed the punishment spelled out in an earlier plea agreement reached between attorneys for the government and Oborny’s defense in United States of America v. Wanda Oborny.
Under the sentence:
Oborny will be on supervised probation for 12 months;
She will make a charitable donation of $100 a month for 12 months to be sent to Fort Hays State University Foundation. The first donation is to be made within 30 days of the sentencing.
She will not be required to pay a fine or restitution but must pay the standard $100 assessment to a crime victims’ fund.
She waives her right to appeal.
The advisory guideline range was 51 to 63 months incarceration, which took into account that she accepted responsibility for the crime and that she had zero criminal history points. But Marten found the plea agreement punishment “sufficient.”
Any further punishment “would be superfluous,” Marten said.
Oborny spoke only twice, saying, “thank you” at one point and then “thank you, your honor,” at the end in an emotional voice.
Outside the courtroom, walking by Oborny’s side, her attorney Salvatore Intagliata, responded to a press request by saying, “I don’t think we’re going to make any statement.” One woman accompanied Oborny and she also declined to comment.
After Hays millionaire Earl O. Field died in early 2013, Oborny said she discovered a codicil to his 2010 will that would give her half his estate. The will would have left the bulk of the estate to Fort Hays State University Foundation.
In a probate case heard in Ellis County District Court in 2016, the court ruled the 2010 will - not the codicil - was the valid document.
The two people who signed the fake codicil, saying they had witnessed Field’s signing, were Steve and Kathy Little, Hays. Aware law enforcement was investigating the estate case, the Littles died in a murder-suicide in August 2015.
Initially, Oborny was indicted in federal court on seven counts of mail fraud, related to the mailing of the fake codicil to the beneficiaries in Field’s will, which included nephews. Six of the counts were officially dismissed Monday, leaving only the mail fraud count for the mailing to Fort Hays State University.
A sentencing memorandum recently filed by the defense quoted statements of support of Oborny’s character from her friends.
“Wanda is known as the ‘Cupcake Lady’ in our town and has baked numerous cakes and cupcakes for (all variety of occasions and events). Lots of times, she does this at no charge, which exemplifies her character as one of the most generous, kindhearted people I know,” wrote Coleen Werth, according to the court document.
Her brother, Gary Rohr, wrote, “Wanda helps in church, she helps at the hospital, she helps at funerals, and everyone knows that they can ALWAYS count on Wanda to help out,” according to the court filing.
Oborny did not admit guilt until a March 1, 2019 hearing in federal court, when the 66-year-old former bookkeeper for Field changed her plea.
In her March petition to change her plea, the filing on behalf of Oborny said: "I hope to receive leniency, but I am prepared to accept any punishment permitted by law which the Court sees fit to impose. However, I respectfully request the Court to consider, in mitigation of punishment, that I have voluntarily entered a plea of guilty."