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Former Vt school president gets 18 months for tax fraud

BENNINGTON, Vt. (AP) -- The founder and former president of a Vermont school has been sentenced to 18 months in prison and has paid back $2.6 million on charges of tax and health care fraud.

The Bennington School, which serves troubled students, has continued to operate and has been under different ownership for more than a year.

Former owner Matthew Merritt Jr. of West Stockbridge, Mass., was sentenced Wednesday after pleading guilty to charges that he was part of a scheme to defraud a health care program and committed tax fraud. The 82-year-old Merritt is to start serving his sentence April 1.

Merritt's son and son-in-law, who both held positions at the school, each pleaded guilty to tax fraud and were sentenced to probation and community service. Another employee also was sentenced to probation.