An Orem man accused of depositing a check written to Berg Mortuary into his own account pleaded not guilty Friday in 4th District Court to an amended charge of theft by deception, a second-degree felony.

James E. Wright, 51, was originally charged with forgery and a misdemeanor theft count. County Attorney Kay Bryson amended the theft charge to the second-degree felony count prior to Wright entering a plea.At Wright's preliminary hearing, a Layton woman and her brother testified that they gave Wright a check for $2,000 written out to Berg Mortuary to cover funeral expenses for their father, who died in 1989. They said Wright promised to give them a discount.

Karl Berg, operator of the mortuary, said he never received the check and that Wright did not have the authority to deposit it into his own account. Wright worked as a funeral plan salesman for the mortuary before quitting in 1989.

Judge Ray M. Harding told Wright to report to District Judge Boyd L. Park on May 24 to schedule a trial date. If convicted, Wright faces a possible sentence of one to 15 years in prison.