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School Embezzlement Suspect Appears in Court

School Embezzlement Suspect Appears in Court

Posted - Apr. 1, 2003 at 4:23 p.m.



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Central Utah Correspondent Sam Penrod reporting The man accused of embezzling thousands of dollars from the Richfield Technology College, appeared in court today. The state auditor has called this the biggest abuse of taxpayer money in 25 years.

Kimble Blackburn, the former finance director of the Central Applied Technology College in Richfield, was charged last month with 42 felony charges related to stealing $160,000 over the last two years. And today in court his attorney said Blackburn wants to cooperate with prosecutors to resolve this case instead of going to trial.

Blackburn was arraigned today on 41 felony charges of communication fraud. Prosecutors accuse him of using a complicated scheme to pocket $160,000 by skirting the college's accounting books over a two and a half year period.

Blackburn's attorney claims his client confessed to school officials last December in an effort to pay back what he took.

Earl Xaiz/Defense Attorney: "THIS IS NOT A CASE WHERE WE COME IN AND WE PLEAD NOT GUILTY AND GO TO TRIAL."

Earl Xaiz: "MY CLIENT'S POSITION IS THAT HE DID NOT KNOW HE WAS BEING INVESTIGATED AT THE TIME HE WENT IN AND CONFESSED TO THE PRESIDENT OF THE COLLEGE. THERE HAS NEVER BEEN AN ATTEMPT TO CONCEAL THAT FROM THE PRESS OR ANYBODY ELSE."

Still the defense disputes the amount of money Blackburn is accused of stealing. Sevier County Attorney Don Brown insists Blackburn came forward only after state auditors discovered widespread improprities at the college and has also charged Blackburn for obstructing justice.

Still the prosecutor admits he is open to possible plea negotiations with the defense.

Don Brown/Sevier County Attorney: "HIS CLIENT HAS AGREED TO MEET WITH THE AUDITORS AND DISCUSS THE FACTS AND CIRCUMSTANCES. I THINK IT WILL BENEFICIAL TO BOTH SIDES. IT IS A TIME CONSUMING MATTER."

The judge rejected Brown's request that bail be set at half a million dollars and ordered Blackburn post $25,000 in bail. After being booked into jail, Blackburn immediately posted bail and was released. He will be back in court on May 6th.

State auditors say they are also investigating the college's books during the 1990's to look for any other wrongdoing.

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