DES MOINES - The president of Iowa Central Community College and three other officials from the school in Fort Dodge pleaded innocent Monday to charges that they falsified student athlete records.
Robert Paxton, college president, and Tom Beneke, Dennis Pilcher and Kevin Twait entered written pleas in Webster County District Court. A trial date will be set later this week, Webster County attorney Ron Robertson said.
The four were charged in a nine-count indictment returned Jan. 17. They will be tried together unless they request separate proceedings.
Beneke is vice president of enrollment management and student development at the Fort Dodge school, Pilcher is the athletics director and Twait, formerly of Storm Lake, is the Tritons' football coach.
They are accused of falsifying transcripts so that three students would be eligible for athletics, including football player B.J. Van Briesen.
Van Briesen had been certified to play during the 2000 season when he should have been ineligible, records showed, and Iowa Central had to forfeit all six of its victories that year.
All four of the officials are accused of tampering with Van Briesen's records. Van Briesen, an offensive lineman, joined the team after being declared academically ineligible at the University of Iowa.
Paxton, Beneke and Pilcher also are accused of falsifying the records of Tyson Haakinson, a soccer player. Pilcher is accused of falsifying the records of Cory Braunschweig, who used to play golf at Drake University.
Pilcher is charged with three counts each of felonious misconduct in office, falsifying public documents and tampering with records. Paxton and Beneke face two counts on each of the three charges. Twait faces one count on each charge.
Felonious conduct and falsifying public documents are Class D felonies, which are punishable by up to five years in prison and a $7,500 fine.
A Webster County grand jury heard testimony and considered the case for about a week before returning the indictments. State agents and other officials had investigated the college and its handling of transcripts for nearly a year.