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Embattled polygamous trust fiduciary Wisan retires

Published August 12, 2014 8:29 am

Wisan is charged with patronizing prostitute.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

Bruce Wisan, the accountant in charge of a polygamous trust who faces a charge of patronizing a prostitute, has retired, his Salt Lake City firm confirmed Monday.

His status as trust overseer, however, remained unknown.

In a statement announcing "management changes," Wisan, Smith, Racker & Prescott LLP, said Wisan's retirement from the firm he co-founded was effective Aug. 7.

Attempts to reach Wisan for comment were not successful.

However, Val Oveson, spokesman for Wisan, Smith, Racker & Prescott, said that, "The decision to retire was mutual, and certainly was brought on by the related stories and activity" involving the prostitution-related accusations.

"This is a tragic event," Oveson said, "and we wish him the best."

Oveson said that what becomes of Wisan's role as fiduciary of the Fundamentalist Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints' United Effort Plan trust does not involve the firm.

"We don't have the contract with the court; Bruce was individually appointed [so] the decision on whether he will stay or go from the UEP trust is between him and the judge."

Last Thursday, the Utah attorney general's office had indicated that in the wake of the prostitution-related charge, it was considering whether to ask for his removal from the post. On Monday morning, office spokeswoman Missy Larsen said no decision had been made, though the UEP matter was expected to be discussed in a late afternoon staff meeting. Contacted again late Monday, Larsen said she had no further comment.

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. Utah seized the trust in 2005 amid concerns that imprisoned FLDS President Warren Jeffs was mismanaging it and residents were at risk of losing their homes.

In 2005, 3rd District Judge Denise Lindberg appointed Wisan as the fiduciary over the trust. It would ultimately 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 the class B misdemeanor prostitution-related count Aug. 5. He has entered a plea of not guilty.

Wisan, 68, previously had been called as a witness in the misdemeanor case against the suspected prostitute, but never appeared in court. The case was put on hold when the 26-year-old defendant failed to appear for trial last month. An arrest warrant was issued for her.

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

Wisan denied having any sexual contact with the woman, saying he was only helping her out with some money. The woman initially backed that account of their relationship, according to police, though later said they had indeed engaged in sexual contact.

If convicted, Wisan could face up to six months in jail.

Wisan, Smith, Racker & Prescott noted that Wisan had been "the driving force [for its] growth and development" as a leader in auditing, strategic planning, mergers and acquisitions for clientele ranging from the construction and manufacturing sectors to real estate, technology and nonprofit organizations.

Replacing Wisan as managing partner is CPA Steven Smith, who co-founded the firm with Wisan in 1985.

remims@sltrib.com

Twitter: @remims