A former Utah Social Services employee faces sentencing Jan. 3 in federal court on her guilty pleas to two counts of mail fraud in a scheme that prosecutors say diverted $25,000 in federal welfare money.

A Utah federal grand jury last March indicted Delores Carr, Salt Lake City, on four counts of fraud for illegally diverting money from the HEAT program during the winter of 1985-86.In exchange for Carr's guilty pleas, prosecutors have agreed to dismiss the two remaining counts of fraud. She faces a maximum sentence of 5 years in prison and a $250,000 fine on each count, as well as restitution for the amounts diverted from the program.

As a seasonal HEAT program employee, said prosecutors, Carr was authorized to process applications for assistance and distribute money to low-income individuals and families to assist them in paying their winter heating bills.

The indictment said Carr sent several checks from October 1985 to March 1986 to the same address, then picked them up herself and distributed them.

"In other cases, she allowed her friends to give her names of their friends, created fraudulent checks for them and mailed them to those individuals," the indictment said.

Since discovery of the scheme, the Social Services agency has changed its computer system so local workers cannot issue the HEAT program checks, officials said.