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Threats following Moab speeding ticket leads to felony charges

Published January 18, 2013 10:31 am

Crime • Man cited for speeding allegedly threatens court clerks, sheriff and UHP secretary.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

What started for a man as a speeding ticket has snowballed into felony charges.

Investigators suspect that the 33-year-old man threatened Grand County court clerks and the sheriff after he learned that there was a warrant for his arrest and that the state was starting the process to suspend his driving privileges.

He was charged on Thursday in Moab's 7th District Court with three second-degree felony counts of threat of terrorism, and one count of threatening an elected official or assault on an elected official, which is a class B misdemeanor.

On Dec. 3, the man was cited by a Utah Highway Patrol trooper for speeding near Moab.

When the man failed to pay the fine or enter a plea, the county justice court sent him a letter warning of a potential warrant and license suspension unless he took action by Jan. 12.

By Jan. 14, the court had issued the warrant and began the license suspension process.

A justice court clerk told investigators that the same day the man called and became increasingly aggravated as he explained how he had no money, did not live in Utah and wanted to be left alone. He then asked the clerk for her last name, because he said he was going to drive to Utah and "take care of" the person responsible for suspending his license and "ruining his life," according to the charges.

He then asked to speak with the clerk's superior, who recorded the phone call. The chief clerk explained that the state suspends licenses, not a specific person, but then the man demanded to know the phone number for the judge who issued the warrant.

He told the chief clerk that he was going to show up at the house of whoever suspended his license, according to the charges. The chief clerk hung up on him and reported the incident to the Grand County Sheriff's Office.

Investigators also learned that a UHP secretary was on the phone with the man the same afternoon, and she reported that he made similar threats to her. Grand County Sheriff's Chief Deputy Darrel Mecham also got an email that morning from the man, who wrote that "someone will pay" if his license was suspended, according to charges.

Investigators determined the man has a valid Indiana license and a suspended Washington license, although New Mexico police report he is currently living in their state out of his car.

Based on his alleged threats, including to "come packing," "taking care of the person responsible" and "if one of these good police officers have to deal with this stuff it aint gonna be pretty," the court issued a $250,000 warrant for his arrest.

mmcfall@sltrib.com@mikeypanda