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Stephen Merrill, former director of the University of Utah's Telecommunications Department, waived a preliminary hearing Monday on bribery, theft and computer fraud allegations.

Merrill, 39, was ordered to appear Feb. 27 in 3rd District Court for arraignment and pleading to the 12-count complaint, and for scheduling of a trial date.The defendant is charged with six counts of theft, four counts of computer fraud, and single counts of bribery and illegal dealing with government property.

In the alleged scam that cost the university up to $500,000, Merrill inflated rates the university paid for long-distance telephone service, prosecutors said, and converted the money to his personal use.

Merrill was fired 13 months ago after a six-month investigation by the University Police Department and the Salt Lake County attorney's office.

Prosecutors contend Merrill contracted with ZCMI Telecommunications Department for the university to pay 3 cents per minute for use of long-distance phone trunk lines.

At the same time, the complaint says, Merrill set up an unlicensed company, Z-Net, to act an as intermediary, paying ZCMI the 3-cent-per-minute fee while collecting 10 cents per minute from the university.