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Three former Timpanogos Mental Health Center officials, who were convicted of diverting more than $3 million in public money for their personal use, won't be eligible for parole until 1991, the state Board of Pardons ruled Friday.

In separate hearings, the board set a parole date of Aug. 27, 1991, for Craig Stephens, Glen Brown and Carl Smith. The three men have been at the state prison since mid-August, serving concurrent 0-5 year sentences on third degree felony charges of misusing public funds and filing false tax returns.The parole dates are seven months more than recommended sentencing guidelines given to the board.

Families of the three men attended the hearings and appeared stunned and emotional after the board announced its decisions. Each convict pleaded for an early release so he could begin paying back the money he took.

"I have difficulty generating any sympathy," board member Michael Norman told Smith after noting that Smith's restitution of $1.7 million is more than half of the $3.5 million bilked from the tax-funded mental health center.

"It's a disgrace," Norman said.

Smith, 42, said the ordeal has resulted in personal financial ruin, but that he planned to spend the rest of his life paying his restitution. He said he was self-deceived by success into accepting excessive bonuses - more than $600,000 in 1987.

According to stipulations of fact entered by the attorney general's office and defense attorneys, the former Timp Mental Health officials padded their salaries through illegal personal contract payments and American Express charges.

The trio initially pleaded not guilty to 117 felony counts last February, then later each agreed to guilty pleas on four third-degree felony counts, on the condition that other charges be dropped.

Board member Paul Boyden said the difficulty in determining appropriate restitution was deciding when mismanagement of the center's finances turned into greed and criminal conduct.

None of the defendants said they realized they were misusing public money and compromising the center's programs for mentally ill until after a state audit revealed the misused money.

Stephens, 35, has been ordered to pay $1.4 million in restitution and told the board that the only way he could see paying for his crimes would be to pay the money back, not sit in prison.

"Now I am costing the state. I don't feel I am doing anything worthwhile in not paying back the people who need the money," he said.

He said he has paid back $77,000 through liquidating assets and personal belongings, including his Cadillac. He said he realized it would take a lifetime to make full restitution.

Brown, 65, has been ordered to repay $255,000 and has already paid back much of it. He was the most emotional of the three, breaking down as he apologized and admitted wrongdoing.

Brown, who was head of the center, said his crimes stemmed from greed and trusting others who assured him the contracts would survive scrutiny of an audit.

Board chairman Peter Haun told Brown, however, that Brown's professional background and experience should have prevented him from signing off on the illegal contracts.