PROVO — One week after his wife was sentenced to jail for stealing thousands of dollars from Utah Valley University, a former college associate dean pleaded guilty on Tuesday to the same crime.
Phil Clegg, 47, accepted a plea deal in 4th District Court in exchange for pleading guilty to two counts of communications fraud, both third-degree felonies.
Instead of serving zero to five years in prison for each charge, attorneys agreed to a plea in abeyance that requires Clegg to pay full restitution of $64,000 and serve 120 hours of community service.
“(Clegg) neglected his duties to the university and the students he served, opting instead to funnel large quantities of public money to benefit his private business,” UVU officials wrote in a letter to Judge James Brady.
The one-page letter stated university authorities agreed with the plea deal and hoped the Attorney General’s Office would ensure full restitution.
Charges state Clegg and his wife, Jennifer, stole more than $380,000 from the university to pay for travel expenses and a private theater business.
At the time, Clegg had worked for nearly 15 years at UVU and served as Associate Dean of Students and Director of Student Leadership and Involvement. He also previously attended UVU as a student and served a leadership role in student government.
“This is a high-ranking position of trust and authority, integral to the university’s open-admissions mission,” the letter stated. “Clegg nonetheless abused his position to benefit personally.”
According to charges, Clegg stole $32,637 worth of newspaper reimbursements from USA Today to the university between Sept. 2012 and May 2016.
He also authorized non-existent students to attend a conference, costing around $3,950, and afterward paid for a vacation to New York with those students for $7,630.
After Clegg resigned in May 2016, authorities found a fake student organization account that Clegg created to steal $28,167 from other student’s clubs and organizations. The fraud continued from 2011 to 2016, charges state.
Along with the scams created by his wife, who worked as financial manager for the College of Technology and Computing, the couple cost more than $72,000 total loss to the university.
The stolen money went to a public family theater in American Fork called Towne Cinemas or a non-profit organization called the American Student Association of Community Colleges, both managed by the couple.
“Fraud, waste, and abuse of public funds negatively affected the mission of the university, risks eroding the public’s trust in the university, and has impacted the success of our students,” university officials wrote in the letter.
If Clegg fully complies with the plea in abeyance, the charges will reduce to class A misdemeanors in two years.
Last week, Jennifer Clegg was sentenced to serve four months at the Utah County Jail, 60 days on GPS monitor, 100 hours of community service and probation.