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Polygamous trust fiduciary charged with patronizing prostitute

Published August 7, 2014 9:14 pm

Justice • State attorney general's office may seek Bruce Wisan's removal.
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Bruce Wisan, the accountant in charge of a polygamous trust, has been charged with patronizing a prostitute, and the Utah attorney general's office is considering whether to ask for his removal.

"We're in the process of deliberating and considering what impact [the misdemeanor charge has], if any, on his ability to serve as the fiduciary of the UEP trust," Assistant Attorney General David Wolf said Thursday.

The United Effort Plan is the trust Utah seized in 2005. Third District Judge Denise Lindberg appointed Wisan as the fiduciary over the trust. It would be up to her whether to remove him if Utah or Arizona — which also has standing before Lindberg — requests his removal.

Prosecutors in Taylorsville charged Wisan with a class B misdemeanor Tuesday. Wisan's attorney, Catherine Cleveland, declined to comment Thursday, but the court docket showed she filed a plea of not guilty for Wisan.

A pretrial conference for Wisan is scheduled for Oct. 9 in Taylorsville Justice Court.

Wisan, 68, previously had been called a witness in the misdemeanor case against the suspected prostitute. He was issued a subpoena to testify in Taylorsville Justice Court for a trial in June and another in July. He did not appear either time.

Cleveland has said Wisan was out of town for the June date. For the July trial, Wisan was testifying in Salt Lake City at a hearing regarding the UEP. Cleveland appeared on Wisan's behalf at the July trial, which was canceled after the 26-year-old defendant failed to appear. A warrant has been issued for her arrest.

The case centers on March 20, 2013, when a Unified Police Department officer found Wisan and the woman in a motel on Redwood Road. According to a police report, Wisan said he was helping the woman "financially until she got back onto her feet."

The officer asked if Wisan had any sexual contact with the woman.

"Bruce stated he had not," the officer wrote, "and that he was only helping her with money."

Wisan said he met the woman on the Internet, according to the report and a deposition Wisan gave July 30 in a UEP-related lawsuit. The officer returned to questioning the woman, who said Wisan "was just a friend helping her out financially."

The woman at first denied she and Wisan had sex, but then said she and Wisan had engaged in sexual activity, according to the officer's report.

When the officer told Wisan what the woman said about sex, "Bruce was hesitant to talk anymore at this time," the officer wrote. He did not answer questions about sex.

The UEP is the trust holding most of the property in Hildale, Utah, and Colorado City, Ariz., as well as property in Bountiful, British Columbia. The trust was formerly operated by the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Utah seized the trust in 2005 over concerns FLDS President Warren Jeffs was mismanaging it and residents were at risk of losing their homes.

Residents in UEP homes are supposed to pay $100 a month and cover the property taxes. About 80 percent of residents have not been doing so and, at the instruction of Lindberg, Wisan recently began serving eviction notices on the debtors.

Wisan is scheduled to appear in Colorado City on Saturday for a community meeting about the evictions and other issues facing the UEP.

If convicted of the class B misdemeanor, Wisan could face up to six months in jail.

ncarlisle@sltrib.com

Twitter: @natecarlisle