California Fugitive Since 2012 Located in Utah Following $3.00 Credit Card Fraud

A fugitive from California wanted for murder since 2012 has been located in Utah after he committed a credit card fraud for a whopping $3.00.

Murder in California

Photo by: Tom Britt

In 2012, 29 year old Jordan Vigil was found dead in a garage in Castro Valley, California. The man suspected of his murder fled prior to police arriving on scene. Police assumed the suspect may have fled the country as he possibly had ties outside the United States. The case went cold until just recently when the suspect was located in Utah.

Credit card fraud in Utah

33 year old Cody Tripp was the sole suspect in the murder of Jordan Vigil in California but managed to steer clear of law enforcement’s radar for seven years. It wasn’t until Tripp made the mistake of fraudulently using another person’s credit card in Utah that he was eventually caught for credit card fraud as well as the seven year old murder. It isn’t known publicly what Tripp used the stolen card for, but the amount of just over $3.00 probably wasn’t worth it.

Criminal charges

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When someone unlawfully takes possession of another’s credit or debit card in Utah, it is considered a type of fraud – regardless of whether or not they used the card to go on a shopping spree or to buy a drink at a mini-mart. Credit card fraud that gets reported to police as what happened in this case is investigated thoroughly and penalized as a second or third degree felony, depending on the quantity of cards stolen. Utah Code 76-6-506.3 states “. . . an individual is guilty of a third degree felony who: acquires a financial transaction card from another without the consent of the card holder or the issuer”. If the person is in possession of 100 or more stolen cards, the charges are increased to a second degree felony.

Don’t run – Get an attorney

Tripp’s fraud charge in Utah is nothing compared to the homicide charge he faces back in California. Facing serious criminal charges can be frightening, especially when facing a charge that could mean life in prison or even the death penalty. Running from the law may buy a person some time, but it is always better to face a charge head on with the help of a reputable criminal defense attorney.

Estranged Ex Arrested for Vehicle Arson in Utah

The estranged ex of a Kearns, Utah resident was arrested for vehicle arson after going to her ex-boyfriend’s house and lighting two vehicles on fire.

Late-night bonfire

Photo by: Michael Pardo

The residents of a Kearns household awakened Thursday to find two of their vehicles and part of the garage on fire. An accelerant, most likely gasoline, had been poured onto a vehicle in the driveway and another on the street before being lit on fire. Both vehicles suffered several thousand dollars in damage and the garage near one vehicle suffered severe damage as well. Multiple neighbors turned in camera footage where a female was seen committing the vehicle arson before getting into her own car and taking off.

The one that got away

The camera footage collected from neighbors showed 27 year old Jessica Halee Wright, the ex-girlfriend to one of the residents of the home, as the sole suspect in the vehicle arson case. No reasoning was given as to why she set the cars on fire. Since both vehicles were not occupied at the time of the torching, she more than likely didn’t mean to cause any physical harm to anyone. She possibly started the fires out of anger toward her ex or his family who also occupied the home. It isn’t know how long ago the relationship with Wright and the resident ended, but one can assume they were not on good terms.

Photo by: Kate Ter Haar

Vehicle arson

Wright was booked into the Salt Lake County Jail for arson. The charges for arson depend on the monetary value of the item burned and whether or not the property was a residence or an occupied vehicle or outbuilding. Since no one was inside the vehicles when Wright lit them on fire, and she will be facing arson and not aggravated arson charges. According to Utah Code 76-6-102, “A person is guilty of arson if . . . the person by means of fire or explosives unlawfully and intentionally damages . . . the property of another.” Since the damage to the vehicles and garage were greater than $5,000, Wright is facing second degree charges for vehicle arson.

Counselor before an attorney

Anyone facing a nasty breakup is encouraged to seek counseling to work through anger or betrayal issues before letting their issues turn into hostility and criminal activity. Those already facing trouble for their erroneous way of handling a soured relationship should seek legal counsel from a trusted attorney.

Utah Prostitution Stings – Catching Culprits of Opportunity or Entrapment

Although paying or receiving funds for sexual activity is against the law, many wonder if Johns arrested during prostitution stings in Utah are culprits of opportunity or victims of entrapment.

Catching one of their own

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A prostitution sting on Valentine’s Day netted the arrest of 51 year old David Moss of Lehi, Utah. Undercover detectives with the Utah County Special Victims Task Force arrested Moss, who was a former police officer with the St. George Police Department after he responded to a prostitution ad online and met two undercover female detectives posing as prostitutes. Moss’s arrest came after he made several incriminating statements online and in person including offers to “manage” the prostitutes and hide their activity from police. He also followed these comments with inappropriate behavior directed at one of the undercover officers.

Patronizing a prostitute

Moss was arrested for multiple charges including patronizing a prostitute which is described by section 76-10-1303 as “when the individual:
(a) Pays or offers or agrees to pay a prostitute, or an individual the actor believes to be a prostitute, a fee, or the functional equivalent of a fee, for the purpose of engaging in an act of sexual activity; or
(b) Enters or remains in a place of prostitution for the purpose of engaging in sexual activity.”

Pimps vs Johns

Moss is also facing charges of exploiting prostitution, a third degree felony compared to patronizing a prostitute which is punishable as a class A misdemeanor for a first defense. While patronizing a prostitute is the typical charge for “Johns”, exploiting prostitution would be the charge for the “pimps” or those wishing to recruit or manage others in prostitution. Third degree exploiting prostitution is defined by Utah Code 76-10-1305 as when “an individual:
(a) Procures an individual for a place of prostitution;
(b) Encourages, induces, or otherwise purposely causes another to become or remain a prostitute;
(c) Transports an individual into or within this state with a purpose to promote that individual’s engaging in prostitution or procuring or paying for transportation with that purpose;
(d) Not being a child or legal dependent of a prostitute, shares the proceeds of prostitution with a prostitute, or an individual the actor believes to be a prostitute, pursuant to their understanding that the actor is to share therein; or
(e) Owns controls, manages, supervised, or otherwise keeps, alone or in association with another, a place of prostitution or a business where prostitution occurs or is arranged, encouraged, supported, or promoted.”

Gray area

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Since Moss came prepared with an illegal business plan, it is hard to say he didn’t know what he was getting into unless his inappropriate business endeavor was all a ruse to impress the ladies. Regardless, his actions will be making a lasting impression; a negative one when he faces a judge in court. While Moss’s case could paint a pretty clear picture of how horrible his remarks and behavior was – he was not the one placing the ad; he was merely responding to it. If the ad hadn’t been there, would he have still made the illegal choices that he did? This is a common question that comes up following prostitution stings. Are stings a way to catch criminals or are they a non-biased trap to catch anyone who may happen by? Some otherwise innocent individuals caught in the frequent prostitution stings throughout the state often fall into a gray area where you wonder if they had actually planned to commit a crime or just reacted to a setting they were placed in. This gray area where one may question someone’s criminal intentions that often occurs with stings can be known as entrapment.

Opportunity or entrapment

Entrapment is defined Utah Code 76-2-303 as “. . . when a peace officer or a person directed by or acting in cooperation with the officer induces the commission of an offense in order to obtain evidence of the commission for prosecution by methods creating a substantial risk that the offense would be committed by one not otherwise ready to commit it.” While many arrested during prostitution stings may have been “. . . merely afford[ed] . . . an opportunity to commit an offense”, there is always a concern others were arrested solely based on the enticement of the officers. Anyone facing charges following a prostitution sting whether or not they may have been the victim of entrapment are encouraged to seek legal counsel immediately.