Utah Man Impersonating an Officer Arrested For Making Death Threats

A Utah man impersonating an officer was arrested earlier this month after he made death threats against two men in Saratoga Springs.

Racial hatred

Photo by: HonestReporting

41 year old Jerred Martin Loftus of Eagle Mountain, Utah was arrested after he aggressively approached two men walking on a trail whom he accused of being in the United States illegally. Angry at the men for no apparent reason other than their ethnicity, Loftus told the men he was a correctional officer and threaten to shoot them and hide their bodies. The frightened men called police while Loftus fled the scene on foot, leaving his vehicle nearby with his firearm and ammunition inside. Loftus was later apprehended and charged with aggravated assault and impersonating an officer.

Impersonating an officer

Loftus told the men he was a correctional officer, and while it is unknown if he had been previously, at the time was not an authorized law enforcement official of any kind. Utah Code 76-8-512 defines impersonating an officer as when an individual:

(1) “Impersonates a public servant of a peace officer with intent to deceive another or with intent to induce another to submit to his pretended official authority or to rely upon his pretended official act;

(2) Falsely states he is a public servant or a peace officer with intent to deceive another or to induce another to submit to his pretended official authority or to rely upon his pretended act; or

(3) Displays or possesses without authority any badge, identification card, other form of identification, any restraint device, or the uniform of any state or local government entity, or a reasonable facsimile of any of these items, with the intent to deceive another or with the intent to induce another to submit to his pretended official authority or to rely upon his pretended official act.”

Impersonating an officer is a class B misdemeanor and punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,000 fine. Threatening to kill someone while impersonating an officer is punishable as a second degree felony, with up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Voyeurism Charges Pending for Man that Took Pictures under Women’s Skirt

A man in Utah was arrested for voyeurism after he was caught taking pictures under women’s skirts at City Creek Mall in Salt Lake City.

Creeping with a cell phone

Photo by: Waldemar Merger

41 year old Stephen Grogan of New Jersey, who is in Utah doing training with the National Guard was arrested last week after he allegedly used the camera on his cell phone to take some pictures from under multiple women’s skirts at a clothing store in City Creek Mall. Witnesses reported that Grogan would pretend to shop for clothing in the women’s section of the store and when he would bend down to look at clothes, he would snap a picture looking up under the skirts of nearby women. The husband of one of the women was able to use his cell phone to take a picture of Grogan which was used by authorities to locate and arrest him for suspicion of voyeurism.

Voyeurism

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:

(a) For the purpose of viewing any portion of the 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;

(b) Without the knowledge or consent of the individual; and

(c) Under circumstances in which the individual has a reasonable expectation of privacy.”

Criminal and military penalties

Voyeurism is punishable as a class A misdemeanor and if no technology is used, the penalty would then be a class B misdemeanor. Along with the civil penalties Grogan faces, he will also have to face additional penalties, demotions, or loss of clearance that could be handed down by the chain of command in his military unit.

Criminal Defamation Through Social Media Comments

Many individuals are more open to share their opinions when it is done through social media posts or comments, yet is there a point when their views could be seen as defamation of character?

Immediate judging by the public

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In a court of law, someone is innocent until proven guilty. When it comes to social media however, people are often figuratively burned at the stake the second they are accused of a crime. It doesn’t help that local news sources appear quick to run stories online the second they catch wind of a crime, especially one that is likely to result in a lot of judgmental chatter. Even if court proceedings exonerate a defendant, the sting of being deemed a criminal in the social media limelight is slow to heal. Things said either vocally or by the written word can damage the public outlook on that person with the ability to ruin their reputation forever, regardless of whether or not the comments are true.

Newsworthy?

Social media witch hunts often occur when an arrest is reported, yet they can also happen when any story of interest hits social media news feeds. Recently a local high school football coach in southern Utah was relieved of his duties while school officials assured everyone he was not being disciplined for anything and would continue teaching classes. Despite the school’s attempt to limit possible rumors that would fan the fire for slanderous comments, a twist on the story from multiple news stations quickly threw the story out to the allegorical wolves.

Opinions or fabricated facts

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Within a short amount of time of the story hitting social media, hundreds of comments from the public followed on the public post. Some of these comments were speculations onto the reasons for the loss of the coach’s position, while others made blatant attacks on the coach’s character, making claims that were severe in nature and could possibly alter the way other’s regarded him. One individual claimed the coach “tortured” her family, which is possibly an exaggeration from an offended parent whose kid sat on the bench, not an actual claim of physical assault. That comment had the potential to cause others to be concerned about the possibility of the coach being violent towards his students and therefore could be seen as defamation.

Freedom of speech or criminal defamation?

According to Utah law, there is a fine line between stating opinions and spreading false information. When someone crosses that line and spreads rumors that could hurt another person, they may end up facing criminal charges for defamation. Utah Code 76-9-404 states, “A person is guilty of criminal defamation if he knowingly communicates to any person orally or in writing any information which he knows to be false and knows will tend to expose any other living person to public hatred, contempt, or ridicule.” Section 76-9-404 goes on to warn the public that “[c]riminal defamation is a class B misdemeanor.” According to Utah State Courts, if someone is convicted of criminal defamation, they may face “[u]p to six months in jail” as well as a fine “up to $1,000”. Defamation may also be prone to result in civil charges as well as criminal.

Nothing but the truth

If a person makes a statement about another that has the potential to greatly damage that individual’s reputation, they had better be sure what they are saying or writing is true. In fact, the truth is the best defense in cases of criminal defamation. For more information on criminal defamation or other offenses against public order and decency, contact a criminal defense attorney.