Police Chief pleads the 5th
10 felony drug cases in Escalante Utah may be dismissed as former police Chief Kevin Worlton refused to testify in court. Worlton objected to the subpoena to testify in the drug cases, stating that the information he would provide would likely incriminate him.
Losing the trust of a town
As the only police chief for a town of less than 1,000 people Kevin Worlton wore the badge of trust and respect exclusively. He was solely responsible for serving and protecting the small town of Escalante Utah. Worlton betrayed the trust of those he protected by falsifying documents to acquire search and arrest warrants during an investigation. These fabrications supported the arrest of 6 people.
The investigation and lies begin
In December 2014, then police Chief Kevin Worlton began an investigation on drug use and distribution in Escalante Utah. Starting his investigation, Worlton came to the home of a suspected drug user. He instigated a conversation with the female suspect in which she divulged details that incriminated her. This implicating information the subject provided allowed Worlton to gain a warrant for a blood and urine sample. During this exchange the subject was speaking freely and had not been read her Miranda rights prior to this interaction. However, later when Worlton was seeking warrants to search other Escalante homes, he stated that she had been read her Miranda rights preceding her statements. An audio recording of this conversation verified that was false.
The lies continue
By using information from the first subject, Worlton obtained search warrants for other homes. At one of these homes, Worlton questioned another female suspect inquiring if contacts of hers were selling marijuana. Even though the subject indicated that she didn’t know, Warlton changed her statement in documents to make it seem that she had in fact named her acquaintances as drug distributors. The charges for those contacts went from a simple possession charge to a third-degree felony of distribution because of Worlton’s altered information. Unfortunately for Warlton, this conversation was also being recorded and showed his documented information as being false.
Arrests made based on deceptive information
With the facts Warlton obtained in his investigation mingled with the phony information he added, 6 individuals were arrested. The charges against these people ranged from class B misdemeanors to first-degree felonies. 4 of those arrested have already pleaded guilty to their charges. Conveniently for Warlton, he waited days after the 4 subjects had pleaded guilty to turn in his police reports with the fabricated information.
Charges against the former officer
As evidence of his wrongdoings came to light, Worlton was placed on temporary paid administrative leave in January 2015. Worlton was later terminated from his position as sole police chief of Escalante Utah. Not only did he lose his job, his dishonesty earned him 2 second-degree felonies for making false statements on police reports and a class B misdemeanor for not keeping his reports in order. Although he will not appear in court to testify in the 10 felony cases, he will appear in court on May 21 for his own charges.
Professional legal advice for drug charges
The 4 individuals that have already pleaded guilty to the drug charges will hopefully have their pleas withdrawn. Any information obtained in Worlton’s investigation to charge the 6 individuals is tainted because of his deceitfulness with documented information. This along with his refusal to testify may get all 10 felony cases thrown out. This experience is an excellent example of why being knowledgeable about your rights is imperative, especially before you appear in court. If you are facing drug charges, call an educated criminal defense attorney to study the facts and ensure that your charges are not the result of falsified information.