Written by Torry Barnes, @TorryBarnes
A former BYU-Idaho employee is facing felony charges after stealing thousands of dollars from the school with campus credit cards, according to a Rexburg police report.
John Bottema, a former employee in the accounting office, in the Spencer W. Kimball Student and Administrative Services building, is accused of withdrawing around $6,200 Jan. 2 and 3 from ATMs in Salt Lake City, Utah; Pocatello, Idaho; and Idaho Falls, Idaho, according to the police report.
Rexburg Police Capt. Randy Lewis said Bottema was brought into questioning Jan. 14, after surveillance footage showed him using campus cards at various ATMs.
Lewis said Bottema was going to Utah as the police arrived to question him.
Bottema admitted to fraudulently using the cards for personal use, according to the police report.
Lewis said Bottema was charged with two counts of fraudulent use of a financial card and was taken to the Madison County Jail.
Bottema has a bail bond of $40,000, according to the police report.
Police said Bottema sent approximately $5,000 of the fraudulent money to his bank in St. George, Utah, and the remaining $1,200 was spent on food and motel rooms.
Bottema obtained access to the cards through his full-time job as an accounts payable specialist in the accounting office, according to Lewis.
One of his job responsibilities was to “review and enter company credit card expenditures as well as monitor fraudulent activity,” according to Bottema’s LinkedIn account.
Bottema admitted to obtaining the cards by intercepting mail with the cards inside and activating the cards, according to the police report.
Brent Crandall, media relations and campus communication manager, said Bottema was a former student employee for the school, but was hired as a full-time employee for the accounting office after graduation.
Crandall said Bottema is no longer an employee of BYU-I.
Lewis said BYU-I is not immune to crime, but this crime does stands out compared to other crimes on campus.
“It’s kind of out of the normal type of crime,” Lewis said. “You usually don’t see them very often.”
Cody Cutler, a BYU-I alumnus, said he was shocked when he found out the charges against his friend.
“It’s so strange,” Cutler said. “This kind of thing is completely out of character for John.”
Cutler said Bottema is a good man that made a big mistake, and people should not judge him based on this one mistake.
“I’m not saying that what he’s charged with is exucusable,” Cutler said. “It’s not. What I’m trying to say, however, is that there is more to him than his error.”
Henry Bowen, a senior studying psychology, said Bottema was always the most cheerful guy.
“I served with John Bottema on my mission; he was the AP for a long time,” Bowen said. “This comes as quite a shock to me. He was always someone to greet you with a smile on his face.”
Bowen said he tries not to look down on Bottema.
“I still give him the benefit of the doubt,” Bowen said. “If he were trusted with the school’s card for any reason, I don’t think he would justify using it for personal use unless he was trying to help somebody out.”