USU admissions official charged with stealing scholarships
Cache County prosecutors have filed felony charges against Utah State University's former director of enrollment services in connection with the misuse of more than $200,000, much of it earmarked for scholarships.
Jennifer Putnam Twiss came under suspicion in February when an internal audit of scholarships revealed questionable awards made to her family members, according to a probable-cause statement filed in 1st District Court in Logan. Going back to 2004, six family members had been awarded $190,000 in scholarships and waivers, but there was no documentation justifying the awards.
USU dismissed Twiss, 34, and referred the matter to police.
"Using family members' accounts, Twiss would post a scholarship for cash reimbursement and then have the check sent directly to her, forge the recipient's name and then deposit it into her personal bank account," wrote USU police Officer Steve Milne in the probable-cause statement. "The investigation found no evidence that the family members were involved and when questioned, told investigators they were not aware of Twiss' actions."
Investigators documented 18 occurrences in 2009 and 2010 when Twiss had taken $36,000 in cash, Milne added.
Twiss, a 2001 USU graduate, told investigators she awarded scholarships to help her family and forged checks to pay off debts. She is free on $5,000 bail and entered a not-guilty plea in an initial court appearance Monday. She faces five counts of theft, forgery and embezzlement.