Prosecutors have charged the former chairman of the Days of '47 rodeo committee with fraud, alleging he rerouted about $304,000 in funds intended for the rodeo into his own account.
Brad Floyd Harmon, 53, was charged in 3rd District Court on Thursday with a pattern of unlawful activity, communications fraud and unlawful dealing of property by a fiduciary. Each charge, if he's convicted, carries a prison sentence of up to 15 years. The court also issued a warrant for Harmon's arrest, with his bail set at $10,000.
The Days of '47 Inc. committee told Unified police detectives last year that they'd found a $15,867 check issued to the rodeo from a clothing company, but no evidence of the payment in their records. When the committee called the company about the check, the company said someone did cash it, according to the charges.
The committee identified Harmon as the one who allegedly deposited the check into a separate account, and fired him days before the annual event. An internal investigation followed, in which the committee found more checks and funding that would have been under Harmon's control but that they had never received, according to the charges.
Days of '47 Inc. claimed that Harmon, appointed as chairman of the rodeo committee in 1997, quietly created a separate business entity for the rodeo in 2002 called Days of '47 Rodeo Inc. without informing them or getting approval, according to a resolved lawsuit over use of the name. Detectives found that five companies had paid for advertisements at the rodeo that the committee could not account for, and that Harmon had been routing those checks to the account of his new, separate company.
The chief financial officer had asked Harmon several times about the rodeo finances, and Harmon assured him that all funds connected to the rodeo were being provided and reported to Days of '47 Inc., according to the charges. After the CFO found out about Days of '47 Rodeo Inc., he confronted Harmon again and Harmon told him that no financial transactions ever took place with his separate company.
He told the Days of '47 Inc. board the same thing, the charges add.
But between 2002 and 2011, police allege that about $268,000 made out to "Days of 47 Rodeo," or some variation on that, were deposited into a Wells Fargo account, of which Harmon was sole signatory. By March 2011, the account was empty.
Detectives also found a Cyprus Credit Union account that existed from April 2011 to March 2012 that belonged to Harmon, where similar checks totalling about $36,000 had been deposited.
A board member told detectives that all withdrawals from those accounts should have been spent on the rodeo, but investigators instead found they'd been spent on everyday expenses like dry cleaning bills, gas stops and trips to the grocery store, according to the charges.
The lawsuit, meanwhile, was dismissed by a U.S. District Court judge per both parties' requests. All assets, including rodeo equipment and rights to the name, were returned to Days of '47 Inc. as part of dropping the dispute.