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Former State Fund Director Pleads Guilty to Theft Charge

Former State Fund Director Pleads Guilty to Theft Charge



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- The fired deputy executive director of the Utah Educational Savings Plan Trust has admitted to stealing from the fund.

Dale C. Hatch, 55, pleaded guilty in 3rd District Court to one count of second-degree felony theft. Sentencing is set for May 13.

In exchange for Hatch's plea, prosecutors agreed not to ask for prison time, and they will remain silent on the question of whether Hatch should go to jail.

He had been charged with stealing more than $85,000 from the trust, but the amount of restitution he will have to repay is in question.

Between 2002 and 2004, Hatch transferred $85,500 in funds from the plan into his personal account, according to prosecutor Anne Cameron.

Hatch has returned $20,000, leaving a potential balance of $65,500. But Hatch insists $32,000 of the transferred cash was his own money.

Defense attorney Peter Stirba said he will meet with the prosecutor prior to the sentencing date to arrive at a restitution amount.

Stirba added that Hatch is sorry for what he did and plans to "make it right."

The foundation was created by the Legislature in 1996 to encourage saving money for college, and carries accounts from all over the country similar to Individual Retirement Accounts or 401ks. The Board of Regents oversees the trust.

As plan director, Hatch was responsible for tracking national trends in college-savings programs and making the necessary changes in investment options, according to court documents.

His responsibilities and authority made it possible for him to make adjustments to plan market orders and transfer funds into his personal accounts, court documents said.

He was fired in July, and an audit a month later showed Hatch allegedly transferred more than $500,000 from the trust into his personal account. After his termination, a balance of $420,476 was recovered from accounts that had been under his control.

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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