Ex-USU administrator sentenced for scholarship scheme, forgery
Utah State University's former director of enrollment services will spend a year in jail for misusing more than $200,000 of the school's money, much of it earmarked for scholarships.
Jennifer Putnam Twiss, 35, of North Logan, pleaded guilty in October to theft and unlawful dealing with property by a fiduciary, both second-degree felonies, along with three counts of third-degree felony forgery.
On Tuesday, 1st District Judge Kevin Allen sentenced the woman to one year in the Cache County jail, followed by five years probation. Allen also ordered her to repay more than $230,000 in restitution.
Twiss came under suspicion in February 2012 when an internal audit of scholarships revealed questionable awards made to her family members, according to a probable cause statement filed in court. Going back to 2004, six family members were awarded $190,000 in scholarships and waivers, but there was no documentation justifying the awards.
"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."
In addition to the scholarship money, investigators documented 18 occurrences in 2009 and 2010 when Twiss took a total of $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.