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Eastern Utah police chief accepts apology for defamatory message board posts

Published January 16, 2013 7:23 pm

Criminal case • Apology part of former Naples police chief's effort to settle criminal charges.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The former police chief in Naples, Utah, has apologized to his successor for defaming him on Internet message boards.

Steven C. Guibord, 57, made the apology as part of a diversion agreement to settle the class B misdemeanor criminal defamation case against him, according to court records.

But Guibord's Jan. 3 visit with current police Chief Mark Watkins didn't stop with the apology. The two men visited for "a couple hours," including reminiscing about their days working together in the 1,700-person Uintah County town, Watkins said.

"I respect a person that would put down their pride and do that," Watkins said on Wednesday.

Watkins said he accepted the apology and forgave Guibord.

Guibord resigned from the Naples Police Department in 2008. In 2011, Naples' current police chief, Mark Watkins, started receiving emails and letters critical of what Watkins supposedly posted on a website honoring law enforcement personnel killed in the line of duty. The statements attributed to Watkins referred to Border Patrol as a "security organization" rather than law enforcement and appeared on pages remembering two agents.

Watkins said he wrote no such thing. He was able to use IP addresses to trace the postings to Guibord.

Watkins was a sergeant at Naples while Guibord was the police chief. The episode prompted Naples city leaders to send apologies to the families of the two slain Border Patrol agents.

Besides the apology, Guibord also must violate no laws through December of this year, court records show. In exchange, the prosecutor will drop the criminal defamation case, and no conviction will be logged.

Despite the long talk, Guibord did not offer an explanation for the postings or using Watkins name, the chief said.

"To be honest with you, I'd rather have the apology with no excuses," Watkins said.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle