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September evidence hearing set for Daggett County sheriff, two employees accused of inmate mistreatment

First Published      Last Updated Jul 17 2017 11:19 pm

Courts » The five people accused of misconduct at the county jail get a September hearing date.

Silver Summit • Evidence detailing alleged mistreatment of Daggett County jail inmates is to be presented in court in early September as the criminal cases against the county's former sheriff and two of his employees move forward.

Third District Judge Kent Holmberg scheduled a Sept. 7 preliminary hearing for former Sheriff Jerry Jorgensen, jail commander Lt. Ben Lail and Deputy Joshua Cox — who all appeared in together in a Summit County courtroom Monday.

In all, five former employees have been accused of mistreating jail inmates, permitting that mistreatment or impeding a state investigation. Their cases were initially filed in Daggett County but were moved after judges in the 8th District recused themselves from the case.

Cox, 27, is charged with nine felonies and two misdemeanors, including seven felony counts of aggravated assault, each involving a stun gun. He also is charged with two counts of bringing a dangerous weapon — a stolen stun gun — to the jail; one count of theft of a stun gun; and one count of reckless endangerment.

Lail and Cox left the courthouse Monday without commenting to news reporters. The former sheriff declined to comment, but his attorney, Blake Hamilton, said Jorgensen wants to tell his side of the story once the case is over.

"This is very taxing," Hamilton said, "as it is for anyone that's been criminally charged, but specifically [for] somebody that has given over 40 years of their life to law enforcement."

Prosecutors allege in charging documents that Cox told inmates he would give them soda if they could withstand being stunned for five seconds with his personal stun gun. He also is accused of bringing K-9s into the jail and attempted to teach the dogs obedience training. Two people were bitten during the training.

Jorgensen, 64, who resigned after the Utah Department of Corrections removed state inmates from the jail, is charged with misdemeanor counts of obstruction of justice and official misconduct. Prosecutors allege he tried to prevent an investigation into the jail and failed to investigate his own employees.

Lail, 31, was charged with a felony count of aggravated assault and is accused of pointing a stun gun at the feet of a woman working in the jail control room.

The state for years paid Daggett County to house its prisoners in the jail. The inmates were removed in February after the Department of Corrections opened an investigation into the corrections officers' conduct — a move that stripped Daggett County of an anticipated $1.42 million through the end of the year.