Money matters of the past may prove to be a problem for one Midvale City Council candidate.
In February, District 3 candidate Paul Hunt pleaded guilty to wrongful appropriation of more than $30,000 from his former employer, Infobase Media Corp. Hunt, who currently serves on the Midvale Planning Commission, was charged with a second-degree felony for using his company credit card for personal use, but he pleaded down to a class A misdemeanor.
Hunt claims the charges result from a misunderstanding with his former employer, for which he worked as the business-operations manager. He claims using the company credit card for personal purchases and then paying the company back was a common practice, and he believed his account was settled when he left the company.
"At the time, it was all aboveboard," Hunt said.
But in 2008, the company accused Hunt and his supervisor, Neil Bergstrom, of using the credit cards for purchases such as Mary Kay cosmetics, fireworks in Evanston, Wyo., and meals at fine-dining restaurants, said Utah County prosecutor Samuel Pead.
"This is not a civil misunderstanding," Pead said. "This is criminal behavior, stealing money from your employer."
The Orem company, the parent of LDS Audio, had a case that could have been proved in trial, Pead said, but chose to allow Hunt and Bergstrom to accept a plea deal.
"Their wish wasn't really to punish these people. It was just to get their money back," Pead said. Court documents show the restitution was paid by Hunt's wife, Lesley, at the time of settlement.
Hunt chose to plead guilty to settle the matter so it would be brought to a close, he said, adding that both sides were unhappy with the outcome. His friends, family and neighbors who know about the case have urged him to run for the council seat, Hunt said, and understand his side of the story. "It was just a situation where each side had valid claims," Hunt said, adding that the incident was all in the past. "It's a settled matter at this point."