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Judge rules troubled County Recorder Gary Ott’s family, not his aide, will serve as his legal guardian — at least for now

First Published      Last Updated Jul 22 2017 05:45 pm

Courts » County recorder is in a medical facility for the time being.

Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott is in a medical facility, where he'll at least temporarily stay after a judge on Friday affirmed that Ott's family would remain his guardian as his case continues.

Family members have had custody of Ott since late last month, when they picked him up with assistance of police after he was found sitting in a truck parked in a Walmart parking lot in Weber County.

Ott didn't attend Friday's hearing.

Third District Judge Bruce Lubeck granted temporary custody to the family rather than Ott's secretary and former caregiver, Karmen Sanone, whom Ott once identified as his fiancée.

Lubeck said having him remain in an undisclosed facility seemed the best option, for now. "If we decide he's been done wrong in a way that is compensable," the judge said, "there may be some remedy for that."

Sanone apparently submitted a document that she said shows Ott nominated her to be his guardian the month he was sworn into his ongoing elected term, should he need one.

"The document that [Sanone] claims is a designation of guardianship of her is a document from January of 2015," Mary Corporon, Ott's family's attorney and one of his ex-wives, said. "I submit on its face [the document] does not appoint her."

Comments by attorneys in court contradict recent statements by Sanone, who said in June that Ott was healthy and capable of making his own decisions.

Chief Deputy Recorder Julie Dole, who also attended Friday's hearing, contended in June she was effectively running the office for Ott because that was his management style.

Dara Cohen, Ott's independent attorney in the case, said Sanone has at least assisted Ott in his financial decisions since 2014, the year he was last re-elected.

Cohen said she would review medical and financial records, which she said would provide an "objective" account of Ott's life for the past six years.

"I plan on reviewing his medical records going back to probably around 2011 [or] 2012," Cohen said. "The pleadings so far showed Mr. Ott managed his own finances through approximately 2014, at which point Ms. Sanone stepped in to assist him with his finances."

Sanone had maintained publicly that a clerical error led Ott to miss monthly payments on a home equity loan for a year and that he would straighten that issue out.

After police reports showed Sanone told police Ott had dementia, she conceded to The Salt Lake Tribune in June he may have "broad dementia."

Much will happen in the case outside of the public eye before it's over. Attorneys for Ott, the family and Sanone will try to settle the matter out of court through mediation.

"Our hope is that it's cleared up as soon as possible," Sanone said after the hearing. "The longer that Gary is forcibly detained in an institution, the less likely it is he'll be able to return to his community."

In a contentious exchange with Lubeck that later led to an apology, Sanone's attorney Aaron Bergman said the judge was going to rule in the family's favor without enough evidence and that due process wasn't followed.

"We don't know where Mr. Ott is. We don't know the facilities he's in. We don't know the care he's under," Bergman said. "We don't know what's going on."

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