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Jury convicts woman, mom in Fire College conspiracy trial

TUSCALOOSA (AP) — A federal court jury broke its deadlock Thursday and convicted a mother and daughter charged with theft and conspiracy in the purchase of a house from Shelton State Community College at half its value.

Jurors earlier in the day told U.S. District Court Judge Karon Bowdre they were deadlocked on the charges against Gail Phillips, 58, and her daughter, Melinda Sexton, 31, but they reached a verdict after resuming deliberations.

U.S. Attorney Alice H. Martin said the mother and daughter were convicted on all charges of conspiracy and theft from an organization receiving federal funds.

Phillips and Sexton are employees at the Alabama Fire College, which is on Shelton State's Tuscaloosa campus.

A sentencing date was not immediately set. Phillips and Sexton were accused of intentionally submitting an outdated appraisal to buy the house for $45,000. The house, after renovations, was appraised at $92,000 at the time of the purchase; that appraisal, made for the lender, was not given to state school officials who approved the sale.

The two also were charged with using Shelton State money to pay for the renovations and materials, which totaled more than $20,000.

Copyright 2005 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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