Utah Police Chief Arrested for Prescription Drug DUI

A Utah police chief was arrested for prescription drug DUI after a highway patrol officer observed the chief driving recklessly north of the town of Manua.

Reckless driving

Photo by: BitterScripts

On a late January evening, Utah Highway Patrol trooper Kent Goodrich observed a Manua police vehicle driving at a high rate of speed down the median of Highway 89. Goodrich pulled the other police vehicle over and noted the driver, 49 year old Manua Police Chief Shane Zilles appeared to be inebriated. Zilles was cooperative, yet failed a field sobriety test and struggled answering simple questions being asked him as of him. Trooper Goodrich arrested Zilles as he was notably impaired and should not have been on the road putting other people and himself in danger.

Prescription Drug DUI

Zilles inability to pass the field test pointed to him likely being impaired by either alcohol or drugs. Although Zilles appeared to be intoxicated, there was no alcohol detected through a breathalyzer and a tox screen for street drugs came back negative as well. It was determined however that Zilles had not been drinking or using street drugs, yet he had consumed prescription drugs sometime prior to getting behind the wheel of the police cruiser. He was cited for prescription drug DUI and reckless driving.

Class B misdemeanor

Taking prescription drugs is not against the law if taken by the person to whom it is prescribed. It is unlawful however to drive after taking medication if it impairs the person’s ability to drive safely. Utah Code 41-6a-502 states “A person may not operate or be in actual physical control of a vehicle within this state if the person:

• . . . is under the influence of alcohol, any drug, or the combined influence of alcohol and any drug to a degree that renders the person incapable of safely operating a vehicle”.

Section 41-6a-504 warns that “The fact that a person charged with violating section 41-6a-502 is or has been legally entitled to use alcohol or a drug is not a defense against any charge of violating [said section]. Even if the prescription if legal and valid, driving under the influence of prescription drugs that cause impairment is a class B misdemeanor as noted in section 41-6a-503. That DUI charge could be enhanced to a class A misdemeanor or third degree felony if there was bodily injury as a result of an accident or a minor passenger in the vehicle.

Medication side-effects

As a law enforcement officer, Zilles should have known better than to drive impaired. When alcohol or street drugs are involved, impairment is expected. Prescription drugs however could cause impairment that is unknown to the user. Regarding Zilles, there is some information that hasn’t been released yet:

• what type of prescription drugs he was taking; and
• Whether or not it was a new prescription or something he had experience taking and therefore would have known the side effects.

While there are some medications that are known to cause drowsiness and reduced ability to drive such as sleeping pills or narcotic pain meds, others can catch a person off guard by how much they affect their capability to drive safely. It is important to read the labels and all included paperwork with new medications to see if driving impairment is a possibility. If there is any doubt on whether or not impairment could be a factor when taking a prescription medication, drivers are urged to use caution and refrain from driving if possible. Anyone facing charges related to prescription drug DUI are encouraged to seek counsel from an experience attorney.

Police Detective Arrested For Sexual Crimes against a Minor

A police detective from Nevada was arrested for sexual crimes against a minor after he crossed state borders to engage in sexual acts with a 15 year old boy in St. George, Utah.

Dating app

50 year old Gary Erickson was booked into a Nevada jail awaiting extradition to Utah for charges of multiple sexual crimes against a minor in Utah that started with a dating app. In March 2018 Erickson and the 15 year old male juvenile met on a dating app called Grindr, a social app that is used primarily by same-sex attracted males. In order to obtain a Grindr account, the teen lied and stated that he was an adult. When Erickson and the teen started exchanging messages, the juvenile then told Erickson he was actually a minor. Despite this, Erickson continued to send and receive sexually explicit messages and arranged to meet face to face in August.

Meeting in person

Following Erickson’s visit to St. George to meet the15 year old boy, the parents of the juvenile found out that the teen and Erickson had been exchanging nude pictures. Their son then told them that he had met a man online who called himself Eric Smith and that the two had arranged to meet at an aquatic center in St. George to engage in sexual acts. The teen then stated that in the locker room of the aquatic center, Erickson and the minor engaged in inappropriate touching. Erickson then inquired whether or not the youth wanted to have sexual intercourse but the youth declined, telling Erickson he needed to go. Following this alarming information, the boy’s parents alerted police who were able to identify “Eric Smith” as Erickson.

Felony and misdemeanor charges

Erickson is facing multiple felony charges for dealing harmful materials to a minor, sexual exploitation of a minor, as well as a misdemeanor charge for sexual abuse of a minor. These charges are described below:

Dealing harmful material to a minor is a third degree felony and is described in Utah Code 76-10-1206 as when a person “. . . knowing or believing that a person is a minor, or having negligently failed to determine the proper age of a minor, the person intentionally:
(a) Distributes or offers to distribute, or exhibits or offers to exhibit, to a minor or a person the actor believes to be a minor, any material harmful to minors;
(b) Produces, performs, or directs any performance, before a minor. . . that is harmful to minors; or
(c) Participates in any performance, before a minor . . . that is harmful to minors. “

Sexual exploitation of a minor is a second degree felony and is described by 76-5b-201 as “when the person:
i. Knowingly produces, possesses, or possesses with intent to distribute child pornography; or
ii. Intentionally distributes or views child pornography;”

• While the charges related to sending and receiving nude pictures are punishable as felonies, the charge against Erickson for sexual abuse of a child was a class A misdemeanor. Section 76-5-401.1 of the Utah Criminal Code states “An individual commits sexual abuse of a minor if the individual is four years or more older than the minor and, under circumstances not amounting to [rape, object rape, forcible sodomy, aggravated sexual assault, unlawful sexual activity with a minor], the individual touches the anus, buttocks, public area, or any part of the genitals of the minor, or touches the breast of a female minor, or otherwise takes indecent liberties with the minor, with the intent to cause substantial emotional or bodily pain to any individual or with the intent to arouse or gratify the sexual desire of any individual regardless of the sex of any participant.”

Child, minor, or 16-17 year old

Many wonder why the charges against Erickson for sending and receiving nude pictures carried more severe penalties than the charge for the actual touching of the boy’s private parts. This lesser charge could be based on the teen’s age at the time of the incident.

• If the juvenile was 16 years old but younger than 18, the charges against the other individual for sexual touching [not including oral sex or any sexual penetration] would be a class A misdemeanor.

• If the juvenile was considered a minor, which by Utah state law is defined as “an individual who is 14 years of age or older, but younger than 16 years of age, at the time the sexual activity described . . .occurred”, then the charges would be likewise be a class A misdemeanor.

• If the juvenile was under 14 years of age, he would be considered a child and the charges for sexual abuse of a child would then be punishable as a second degree felony.

For more information on sexual charges related to juveniles and how age plays a factor in the severity of those charges, contact a qualified criminal defense attorney.

Peeping Tom in Dressing Room Arrested For Voyeurism of a Child

A peeping Tom has been arrested for voyeurism of a child after being caught spying on a young girl in a dressing room of a Salt Lake department store.

Peeping Tom

Photo by: Geoffrey Orthwein

36 year old Jorge Leon-Alfaro was arrested Saturday after an alert mother spotted Leon-Alfaro holding a handheld device under the dressing room stall at Rue 21 where her 12 year old daughter was trying on clothes. Leon-Alfaro was in the dressing room next door to the young girl when he attempted to record the girl while she was changing. Furious, the girl’s mother followed Leon-Alfaro, confronting him about his actions while recording the exchange on her phone. Police arrived shortly after and after reviewing the mother’s testimony as well as other witnesses on scene, arrested Leon-Alfaro for voyeurism of a child.

Voyeurism of a child

Utah Code 76-9-702.7 states:
A person is guilty of voyeurism who intentionally uses any type of technology to secretly or surreptitiously record video of a person:
For the purpose of viewing any portion individual’s body regarding which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy, whether or not that portion of the body is covered with clothing;
without the knowledge or consent of the individual; and
under circumstances in which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.
[Voyeurism] is a class A misdemeanor, except [when] committed against a child under 14 years of age is a third degree felony.

Paying attention to surroundings

Authorities are commending the mother as well as others at the scene for being alert and noticing what was happening. During an age when many parents and bystanders may have had their heads buried in their phones, the individuals present were paying attention to their surroundings and were able to stop the suspect before he could continue the disturbing behavior.