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Springdale city manager jailed on warrant in alleged traffic fine scheme

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Richard Wixom. Courtesy Washington County Sheriff's Office.

By Kimball Bennion

The Salt Lake Tribune

First published Feb 12 2013 10:10PM
Updated Feb 13, 2013 07:26AM

The Springdale city manager was booked into the Washington County Jail on Tuesday, a day after a judge in Cedar City issued $5,000 arrest warrants for him and the Springdale City police chief based on allegations the officials mismanaged city funds.

City Manager Richard "Rick" Wixom and Police Chief Kurt Alvin Wright were each charged Monday with one third-degree felony count of failure to keep and pay over public money.

The charges came after an investigation by the Utah Attorney General’s Office alleged that the men directed more than $33,000 in on-the-spot traffic tickets from foreign tourists visiting Zion National Park into city coffers instead of to the courts.

The charges are specifically related to fines collected between February 2009 and October 2011, although interviews with current and former Springdale police officers, court personnel and city employees conducted as part of the investigation suggest the practice was in place as early as 2003.

According to Washington County Jail records, Wixom was arrested Tuesday morning and booked on a $5,000 bond. Wixom had posted the bond before the end of the day. Officials at the Washington County Jail said there was no indication that Wright, the Springdale police chief, was ever booked Tuesday. Sgt. Landon Larson of the Washington County Sheriff’s Office said Tuesday night that Wright used to work for the county before he became police chief in Springdale and said it was a possibility that Wright could be booked into another county’s jail if he were to be arrested.

Cpl. Tyrell Roundy at nearby Kane County Jail said Wright was not booked into the facility on Tuesday. The Iron County Jail did not answer calls placed Tuesday night, although the facility’s online roster also did not show any record of Wright being booked into jail in the past five days.

Springdale’s City Council held an emergency meeting on Monday in response to the charges. The council elected to allow both Wright and Wixom to continue to serve in their respective jobs while the case is adjudicated.

kbennion@sltrib.com

Twitter: @KimballBennion

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