David H. Olsen, who pleaded guilty to stealing $76,766 from USU. (Photo: Utah Tech University)
LOGAN — A former department head at Utah State University has admitted to stealing thousands of dollars from the school several years ago. David H. Olsen accepted a plea deal under the condition that he pay back the stolen funds.
Olsen appeared Wednesday morning in 1St District Court. He waived his right to a fair trial and pleaded guilty to one count of theft.
Cache County Deputy Attorney Andrew Crane said Olsen stole $76,766 in computer equipment from the school. The defendant would then take the stolen items to a local electronics store and return them for cash.
The thefts occurred from January 2016 until March 2020. According to the Utah State Auditor’s Office, Olsen was employed as the MIS Department Head and a professor at the time.
Records show he left USU in March 2020 after a 21 year career. He was hired by Utah Tech University (formerly Dixie State University) in June 2020 as an assistant professor.
During Wednesday’s hearing, defense attorney David Perry said as part of the plea agreement, prosecutors agreed not to ask for any jail time if Olsen could repay the school. He explained that his client had acquired a line of credit from a lender and had the full restitution amount to give back to USU.
Olsen said he was sorry and embarrassed for what he did. He also apologized for taking the court’s time.
Judge Brian Cannell told Olsen that he should apologize to the tax payers, who fund USU. He called the defendant’s actions “significant and obviously selfish.”
The case against Olsen was filed by the Cache County Attorney’s Office in June, following an investigation by the Utah State Police Department. It is unknown whether Olsen was fired or left USU as part of the investigation.
A USU spokesperson declined to comment on the case.