Welcome to the Department of Justice, Iowa Attorney General Tom Miller

For immediate release - Friday, March 29, 2002.

Contact Bob Brammer - 515-281-6699.

Iowa Central Community College: Statement of Webster County Attorney Ron Robertson & Deputy Attorney General Doug Marek

March 29, 2002

This morning in the Webster County District Court, three officials of Iowa Central Community College pled guilty to criminal charges involving the falsification of student records:

  • Vice President Thomas Beneke pled guilty to two counts of Tampering with Records, one count based on the alteration of a student transcript to indicate credits that were not earned and the other count based on a memorandum to the National Junior College Athletic Association containing a false statement about the eligibility of the student to participate in intercollegiate athletics.
  • Athletic Director Dennis Pilcher pled guilty to one count of Tampering with Records based on the falsification of a transcript to indicate credit for a course that was not taken by a student who planned to apply for coaching endorsement.
  • Football Coach Kevin Twait pled guilty to one count of Tampering with Records based on his aiding and abetting Thomas Beneke in committing the false statement of eligibility to the National Junior College Athletic Association.

    The three defendants proceeded immediately to sentencing following their guilty pleas. All of the offenses were aggravated misdemeanors punishable by incarceration of up to two years in prison and a fine of up to $5000. The State of Iowa asked the Court to enter judgments of conviction against all defendants. The Defendants requested the Court to defer judgment. The Court imposed probation on all three defendants with conditions that require financial penalties, community service, pubic apologies, and restrictions on their job duties. District Court Judge Ronald Schechtman deferred judgment on all charges.

    As part of the agreements reached with all of the defendants, prosecution of ICCC President Robert Paxton was deferred for a period of one year. The two pending charges were dismissed without prejudice. If Dr. Paxton fulfills the conditions of his agreement with the State, the charges will not be reinstated.

    The Division of Criminal Investigation first visited Iowa Central Community College to look into allegations of falsified records in January, 2001. In January, 2002, the Webster County Grand Jury issued indictments against all four ICCC officials -- Dr. Paxton, Mr. Beneke, Mr. Pilcher, and Mr. Twait. Trial was scheduled to begin next Tuesday, April 2nd. The guilty pleas today followed several weeks of pre-trial motions and hearings.

    The Court dismissed several charges from the indictments prior to the hearing today. Charges based on the transcripts of one out-of-state witness were dismissed after the witness refused to make himself available for testimony. Charges based on the offense of Falsifying a Public Document were dismissed by the Court after a ruling that the charge did not apply to officials who have authority to make entries in public documents. Charges of Public Official Misconduct were dismissed upon motion of the State as part of the agreements reached with each of the defendants today.

    The Grand Jury Indictments last January and the guilty pleas today send a powerful message to Iowa Central Community College and to the people of Webster County and the State:

  • Accuracy of academic records is critical to the integrity of higher education in Iowa.
  • Intentionally falsifying records is not only wrong - it is a crime with serious consequences.
  • Admissions of wrong-doing and airing of the facts are essential to rebuilding the credibility of athletic and academic programs, and to allowing the larger community to heal the divisions that have taken place over this case.

    We believe that the resolution reached in this case is a good one. Several factors led us to this conclusion. We were concerned that the entire community would be harmed by lengthy and divisive trials. At ICCC, staff morale and the reputation of the institution could be harmed. Continued litigation could be a hardship for those numerous witnesses who would be required to testify. Most importantly, we believed meaningful consequences and a just resolution could be achieved without trial.

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