Provo • A former Provo Municipal Councilman charged with multiple counts of fraud moved a step closer to trial on Tuesday, when a 4th District Court judge set a preliminary hearing date in the case.
Fourth District Judge Steven L. Hansen set a two-day preliminary hearing for ex-councilman Steve Turley on Oct. 24-25.
"It is about time," said Diane Christensen, one of the residents whose complaints about Turley's actions led to the 10 fraud charges. "It has been more than a full year since the charges were filed."
Turley is facing seven counts of communications fraud, two counts of exploiting a vulnerable adult and one count of engaging in a pattern of criminal activity, all second-degree felonies stemming from private business dealings.
Turley was originally set to have a preliminary hearing in June before Judge Christine Johnson in American Fork. Johnson recused herself from the case after Turley's attorney, former U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman, argued that Johnson had a social relationship with the investigator on the case.
Previously, 4th District Judge Claudia Laycock recused herself because she knew some of the witnesses against Turley.
Hansen is now the third judge to hear Turley's case.
In addition to hearing the fraud case against Turley, Hansen is also hearing a separate lawsuit that Turley filed, alleging that Trudy Childs reneged on an agreement to sell him land in Diamond Fork Canyon.
Childs, through attorney Randy Spencer, has argued that Turley had defrauded her, alleging that Turley altered a land description to claim more than the 80 acres that she intended to sell him.
Tolman said he was not familiar with the civil case, but would take a look at it. "But the judge has to decide if he can be an impartial arbiter," Tolman said.
Tolman said Turley is looking forward to facing his accusers in court. Turley, who stood beside Tolman, declined to comment.
Turley resigned from the council in September 2011 after an investigation found he violated council rules on conflicts of interest and using information he obtained as a council member for personal gain.