Stuart Johnson, Deseret News
Former Genola city recorder Traci Wright leaves the courtroom after making her first appearance in 4th District Court in February.

PROVO — For more than a year and a half she created checks, paying companies who never did any work in the small town of Genola.

The amounts started out small but continued to grow, until city recorder Traci Wright was forging signatures for checks of $8,000 and $9,000 over to her personal account.

"She was getting more and more bold," said prosecutor Ryan Peters. "We've got boxes and boxes of files. There was a pretty substantial paper trail."

And that trail finally caught up with Wright, who was charged in 4th District Court with 27 felonies in January.

However, that number could have been much more, Peters said.

"We only charged her for checks over $5,000," he said. Recent delays in the case were because prosecutors and defense attorneys were working on an acceptable restitution amount.

Wright pleaded guilty earlier this month to six felonies — three counts of unlawful use of public monies and three forgeries.

With that plea, and a certified restitution check for $104,000, the Utah County Attorney's Office agreed to drop the 21 other charges.

Wright will be sentenced Oct. 28, but according to the plea deal, she won't spend more than 20 days in jail, and even that's debateable given the plea agreement.

The agreement also calls for the felonies to be reduced to class A misdemeanors after she completes three years of probation and pays restitution nearing $125,000.

Neither prosecutors nor defense attorneys know where the money went. There's not one giant purchase or investment, but they believe it was spent as it came in. There is also no indication that Wright's husband knew what was going on, Peters said.

Prosecutors worked with Mayor Eric Hazelet, who was authorized by the City Council to speak on behalf of the town during this matter.

"That was our No. 1 goal, to get the restitution. We are obviously pleased with the efforts that she made today with the first initial payment," he said.

Hazelet deposited the $104,000 check earlier this month.

Along with Hazelet's input, Peters said he's received several calls from concerned residents in Genola.

"Apparently there's a lot of people (supporting) her, but other people wanting her to get out of town," Peters said.

During her tenure as recorder, Wright was a signatory on the checks, but each check had to be approved by the City Council and signed by another signatory, steps she never took, Peters said.

The town has since hired a different accounting firm and now has multiple people responsible for counting and dealing with money, not just one person, said Councilman Kendell Ewell.


E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com