Allen Scott Harris, 40, pleaded guilty to two counts of theft and two counts of communications fraud, both second-degree felonies. An additional six felonies were dismissed as part of a plea deal. He faces a sentence of one to 15 years in prison for each charge when he is sentenced March 11.
Judge James Taylor advised Harris of his rights and reminded him that he has the discretion on Harris’s sentence and could choose to run the sentences on each charge consecutively.
“It could effectively be four to 60,” Taylor said.
Prosecutor Craig Johnson said one theft charge is associated with stealing laptop computers, and the other stems from the theft of toner cartridges. The communications fraud charges resulted from communication with the buyers of the stolen items. Johnson said as part of Harris’s job at BYU Broadcasting, he bought laptops to give to employees between June 2008 and February 2009.
“Instead of turning those over to those people, he sold them on eBay and other sites,” he said.
Harris pocketed the money from the sales for himself and did so again when he sold the toner cartridges, Johnson said. In all, nearly 50 laptops, 80 computer monitors and 175 printer cartridges were bought with university money and sold for Harris’s gain.
“We have a stipulated amount of $200,000 of embezzlement,” Johnson told Judge Taylor.
BYU spokeswoman Carri Jenkins said previously that Harris had an administrative role in the computer support department for BYU Broadcasting. He worked for the university from September 2002 until he resigned in February 2009.
Jenkins said there were concerns from employees about Harris’s activity, and the thefts were discovered during a routine internal audit.
Johnson said Harris and his attorney approached the case professionally and cooperated to determine to extent of the damages and come to a resolution. Both sides had several meetings with BYU to go through records and determine the losses.
Attorneys set Harris’s court hearing far apart because it was anticipated that a lot of legwork would need to be done in the case, Johnson said. There were large amounts of paperwork to go through and serial numbers that had to be tracked to find the computers.
“This was a large accounting project,” he said.
Although $200,000 was lost by the university, Johnson said Harris pocketed less himself because he sold the computers at reduced prices. Harris has agreed to pay $200,000 in restitution, as the stolen merchandise will likely not be found.
“Most of them were not recovered,” Johnson said. “They are throughout the 50 states.”
Johnson said it was important to recover the money for the university because the loss is felt throughout the valley. Many residents support the university either through money to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, through tuition money or through other avenues.
“Just about everyone in Utah County is a victim in some way,” he said.