Theft trials ordered for 2 ex-BYU football players, 2 others

Published: Thursday, Oct. 6 2011 6:29 p.m. MDT

Reno Mahe, who played for Brighton, BYU and the Philadelphia Eagles, has his number retired on Oct. 9, 2009, in Salt Lake City. He and other former BYU football player Tevita Ofahengaue were ordered Thursday to stand trial on theft charges as was Michael Andrus and Fred Prescott.

Tom Smart, Deseret News

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SALT LAKE CITY — Former BYU football standout and NFL football player Reno Mahe and three of his friends were ordered Thursday to stand trial on theft charges.

Following a preliminary hearing before 3rd District Judge Robert Faust, Mahe, fellow former BYU football player Tevita Ofahengaue and Michael Andrus, were all bound over on second-degree felony theft charges. Fred Prescott, 35, was bound over on a third-degree felony theft charge.

The four men have been accused of stealing more than $6,000 in gasoline from a construction company between August and October of 2010.

Mark Evers, 31, was working for A-Core Concrete Cutting at the time and testified in court that he began stealing gas from the company in 2006 using a code he created for a company that maintained fuel pumps. A few months after the code was created, Evers realized its use wasn't documented in regular reports like those linked to employees or their vehicles.

Evers' alleged theft was discovered in October 2010, leading to a review of surveillance tapes dating back to August 2010 that helped police identify Mahe, Ofahengaue, Andrus and Prescott.

An audit showed that more than $55,000 was stolen between June 2006 and October 2010. In 2009, Evers said he told Mahe, a friend since high school, that he received free gas as part of his employment package and offered to give gas to Mahe.

This information was passed on to Andrus and, eventually, Prescott and Ofahengaue.

"I don't recall how they got brought along, if it was Reno that asked them," Evers testified. "I didn't really know them, so probably Reno."

He said he knew some of them because they played church basketball together in Lehi. After their games, they drove to the A-Core facilities in Murray together to fill up their personal vehicles.

"I thought we were all part of it," Evers said. "I was the A-Core employee, but we all did wrong."

But the various defense attorneys questioned how much their clients actually knew. Evers said all of the men were eventually made aware that he was not, in fact, authorized to take the gas but, when pressed, couldn't name when and where those conversations took place or what was said.

Evers said he thought Mahe and his friends eventually knew he wasn't actually authorized to take gas because of "little things," like the fact that they would wait until A-Core employees were gone before they would fill up. He conceded, though, that he once told Mahe that they had to wait because the other employees didn't know management received free gas and would become jealous if they knew.

But Evers was adamant that everyone knew, by mid-2010, that they were actually taking the gas.

"We did have some conversations ... and things here and there," Evers said.

A-Core manager David Heath testified that the majority of the alleged thefts took place between 11 p.m. and 2 a.m. and that the company's gas was used to fill motorhomes, personal vehicles and even a number of gas cans.

Mahe is charged with being present while $2,688.43 in gas was taken during the Aug. 1 to Oct. 17 time frame, Murray police detective Tyler Evans said.

At one point, Evers said he even talked to Mahe and Andrus about stopping, because he felt the twice or thrice weekly gas runs were "out of hand." He said both men were "good" with the idea, but they all resumed because "it was easy."

Evers was fired when the theft was discovered and, the next month, all five men were named in a civil lawsuit. Evers testified that he did not tell his friends that he named them in his termination interview or to police and that Mahe was upset when the lawsuit was filed.

"He felt like it was me, as his friend, that was getting him in trouble. ... He felt his name was being smeared," Evers said of Mahe. "When it hits the news, it takes a different light, because it's public knowledge.

A-Core Concrete Cutting was ultimately awarded a $55,396 judgement in the case.

Evers, who was charged with theft, a first-degree felony, has been offered a plea agreement in exchange for his testimony that will allow him to plead guilty to a reduced third-degree felony charge, avoid prison time and see his conviction reduced to a misdemeanor if he completes his probation successfully.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com, Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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