Utah Felony Drug Cases May Be Dismissed

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.

Photo: Greg Willis

Photo: Greg Willis

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.

Aggravated Robbery Suspect Robbed Same Pharmacy Once Before

aggravated robbery suspect robbed same pharmacy

Photo: DWT110/Wikimedia Commons

On Wednesday, March 18, a La Verkin man who was arrested following the March 11 robbery of a Hurricane pharmacy was charged with more than just aggravated robbery for that incident. He was also given additional charges for a previous robbery at the same location almost a year earlier to the date.

Don’t Return to the Scene of the Crime, Especially not to Rob it Again

According to an article in KSL News, just before noon on March 11, Jonathan S. Forest, 37, entered the Hurricane Family Pharmacy, displayed what was later discovered to be an airsoft gun, and made demands for prescription medication.

A witness to the robbery followed Forest after he left the pharmacy. A call to 911 resulted in an arrest of Forest within 6 minutes of the robbery. Forest had the prescription medication and black airsoft gun on his possession. This led to the original charge of aggravated robbery.

However, between his arrest and conviction on March 18, officers were able to link Forest to another robbery of the same pharmacy on March 31, 2014. After obtaining a search warrant for Forest’s place of residence, detectives located evidence “consistent with the first robbery.”

As a result of these new discoveries, Forest was charged with aggravated robbery, aggravated assault, and nine counts of possession of a controlled substance.

Airsoft Guns Still Result in Aggravated Robbery

According to the Utah Criminal Code 76-6-302 as it applies to this story, aggravated robbery is defined as the act of someone carrying out a robbery and in the process, using or threatening to use “a dangerous weapon as defined 76-1-601.” In that article of the Utah Criminal Code, a dangerous weapon is defined as “any item capable of causing death or serious bodily injury.”

While some may question whether an airsoft gun could cause “serious bodily injury,” the article goes on to define a dangerous weapon as “a facsimile or representation of the item, if…the actor’s use or apparent intended use of the item leads the victim to reasonably believe the item is likely to cause death or serious bodily injury; or the actor represents to the victim verbally or in any other manner that he is control of such an item.”

Aggravated robbery is considered a first degree felony, punishable by anywhere from five years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. If you know someone who has been charged with aggravated robbery, don’t leave that wide interpretation of punishment in the hands of a public defender. Contact an experienced criminal defense attorney.

Marijuana Cultivation, Other Felony Charges for Spanish Fork Couple

marijuana cultivation for Spanish Fork couple

Photo: A7nubis/Wikimedia Commons

On Thursday, Feb. 26, a husband and wife in Spanish Fork were arrested on suspicion of marijuana cultivation for an operation set up in a shed on their property. The couple was booked into the Utah County Jail and is being investigated for numerous other felony and misdemeanor offenses.

That’s Why You Buy an RV

In the popular AMC television drama “Breaking Bad,” the main characters obtain a large RV which they drive to the middle of the desert and produce methamphetamines. One of the reasons they do this is the smell produced by the chemical reactions required to manufacture the drug. Edwin and Valerie Steward of Spanish Fork would’ve been wise to heed this bit of plot.

According to a report from KSL News, detectives performed a walk-by of the Steward residence on Saturday, Feb. 21, after receiving a tip that the couple was growing marijuana on their property. According to a probable cause statement, detectives picked up “the distinct odor of marijuana.”

Detectives returned Thursday with the Department of Child and Family Services on what KSL is calling “an unrelated case.” They asked for permission to search the Steward’s shed, but Valerie Steward refused to give consent. Not long after the visit, detectives observed the Stewards loading boxes into a truck “very rapid(ly).”

After the Stewards left the residence in the truck, officers performed a traffic stop and found numerous marijuana plants, soil, fertilizers, horticulture lights, and various other items used for marijuana cultivation.

Edwin Steward claimed the marijuana was for personal use. Both Stewards tested positive for THC, and Valerie Steward also tested positive for PCP. After Edwin signed a consent form, detectives found the shed to be “equipped for the cultivation of marijuana including a ventilation system.”

Apparently not a good enough one.

Two firearms were also located on the premises. When all was said and done, the couple is being investigated on suspicion of drug paraphernalia, marijuana cultivation, obstruction of justice, and possession of a firearm by a restricted person. All of the drug charges have the additional penalty dealing with the fact that the Steward’s lived in a Utah designated drug-free zone.

Marijuana Cultivation is a Felony

According to the Utah Criminal Code 57-37-8 of the Utah Controlled Substances Act as applies to the Stewards, it is “unlawful for any person to knowingly and intentionally; produce, manufacture, or dispense, or to possess with intent to produce, manufacture, or dispense, a controlled or counterfeit substance.” The Utah Code lists marijuana cultivation with Schedule III or IV substances as a third degree felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine of up to $5,000.

However, again, the Steward’s lived in a drug-free zone. A first degree felony is punishable by five years to life in prison and a fine of up to $10,000. Either way, marijuana cultivation is a very serious charge. If you or someone you know has been charged with marijuana cultivation—or any other charge—be sure to contact an experienced criminal defense attorney. Don’t leave your future—or potential lack of one—in the hands of a public defender.