Kaysville councilman says extortion accusations are ‘just a ruse,’ refuses to resign after being publicly condemned by fellow council members

(Photo courtesy of Kaysville City) Kaysville councilman Dave Adams.

Kaysville • City Councilman Dave Adams voted and asked questions with a seemingly business-as-usual attitude Thursday despite his fellow City Council members requesting his resignation.

“It’s just a ruse,” he told a Salt Lake Tribune reporter a few minutes earlier, at the back of council chambers. He had stepped out from behind his desk while his fellow council members voted whether to publicly condemn Adams and ask for his resignation. The vote comes amid reports of an extortion investigation.

The resolution passed without a discussion, with all council members voting to ask for his resignation.

After waiting an hour and a half for the council to discuss other agenda items, Kaysville residents expressed frustration that the council had voted without public discussion on the issue. Some said the council made a decision prematurely, without knowing what would happen with the extortion investigation.

“This is hard for me,” Adams’ brother Jake Adams said before taking a deep breath. He and a dozen other residents spoke in support of Dave Adams during a public-comment portion of the meeting.

He stood up later, during former Councilman Chris Snell’s recounting of unsavory memories involving work with Dave Adams.

“Facts only,” Jake Adams said, his voice heavy. “You’re wrong.”

“Keep to the facts,” another woman shouted.

Working with Dave Adams was “difficult,” Snell said, adding that Dave Adams “smeared” a lot of people.

Adams’ term ends Jan. 1, 2020.

Adams’ neighbor, Bret Hafen, said that the councilman’s approach is unorthodox and that he “helps bring attention to issues that I think really need to be brought up.” Some people work against him because of that, he said.

“He ran specifically to help make changes because he saw some injustices and was tired of nobody making a change,” Hafen said, adding, “I’ve known him for 25 years, I’ve never had a conflict with him.”

The problem is Kaysville’s organization, Hal Anderson said. It “feeds on its own authority, as opposed to a form of government that listens to the people,” he said.

“It’s an inbred system,” he said. “It’s wrong. What’s going on is a brotherhood.”

Councilman Jake Garn said Adams intimidates employees and people who don’t agree with him, including other council members.

In January 2016, Adams’ first month as a councilman, he said the public works department wasn’t taking enough bids, and was awarding contracts to family members of the department’s then-director, Larry Mills.

His accusations opened a Davis County attorney’s office investigation of the department. The attorney’s office ended the 18-month investigation in September, saying it hadn’t found enough evidence to charge anybody with any crimes, according to Kaysville City Manager Shayne Scott. The investigation found $13,000 of questionable origin in a public works safe, which led to Mills’ demotion before he retired in November 2016, Scott added.

Adams had interacted with Mills and the public works department as a contractor, Scott said. Adams had owned an excavation company, DEA Construction, before running for City Council. He sold the company before taking office.

Adams and Mills had a “history of concern” that dated back to 2011 at least, Scott said.

“I’m not saying this is his only reason for running for office, but he has mentioned to me that a significant reason for running was to clean up the public works department,” Scott said.

In August 2016, an investigation by the state auditor’s office found that public funds — about $5,900 — were used to repair Adams’ firetruck so it could be used in the city’s Independence Day parade. The report questioned whether some of the repairs were necessary for the parade’s main attraction, a water fight the fire truck was used for, according to the report. A parks and recreation supervisor authorized $2,500 to fix the fire truck’s water pump — believing the “parade would suffer” without the truck, the report states.

The report recommended that Adams reimburse the city. The City Council agreed, and Adams has since paid the full amount, Garn confirmed.

In January 2017, Garn and a fellow councilman, Larry Page, signed and submitted a letter of admonishment that outlined actions Adams had taken that they believed were violations of Kaysville code and the city’s code of conduct, the letter states.

The letter describes a disagreement over streets being plowed. Adams said Jan. 7, 2017, that the public works department unfairly prioritized snow plowing to benefit an anonymous council member and a resident who attends council meetings regularly.

Garn and Page said Adams’ intention was to “attack or diminish a council member and a vocal citizen who have been critical of his actions in the past,” the letter states.

Adams also attempted “to use his position to influence” public works Director Joshua Belnap — who took over after Mills — and the city manager to allow him to drive the city’s snowplow, the letter states. In a brief discussion of the letter in a January 2017 council meeting, Adams said he was volunteering to help plow the roads for free.

Adams had another dispute with Belnap, who plowed snow from Adams’ driveway in December 2016. On July 20, 2017, Adams filed a small-claims lawsuit against Belnap for “damage to concrete driveway caused by a constructor tractor being used by Joshua Belnap to plow driveway.” The suit requested $10,000 in compensation.

The same day he filed the lawsuit, he entered a guilty plea in abeyance to a fireworks infraction. The year before, Adams had been charged with violating time restrictions when he shot off fireworks at his home on July 20.

Also on July 20, 2017, Adams filed a small-claims lawsuit against Layton businessman Daren Deru over a tractor-trailer dolly. He requested $10,000 for what he said was a stolen trailer dolly. A trial is scheduled for Jan. 18 in Davis County Justice Court.

The dispute over the tractor-trailer dolly turned into the extortion investigation that caused the council’s request for his resignation.

Adams accused Deru of stealing the tractor-trailer dolly in early 2017, according to a recently unsealed affidavit for a search warrant. Farmington police investigated the accusations, then it brought the case to the Davis County attorney’s office, which in March declined to file charges.

Farmington police then asked Davis County prosecutors to investigate Adams for alleged extortion because Adams reportedly demanded that Deru either pay him $250,000 for the trailer — which was neither damaged nor missing — or be reported for theft, the affidavit states.

After Farmington’s probe didn’t lead to charges, Davis County Sheriff Todd Richardson allegedly opened two investigations into the theft accusation as a favor to Adams, who ”was not happy with the outcome of [Farmington’s] investigation,” according to the affidavit.

Adams may have tried to use the reopened investigation to leverage a “payoff” from Deru, the affidavit states. Adams continued to call Deru, reportedly to demand money.

In August, Craig Webb, an investigator with the Davis County attorney’s office, interviewed Deru over Adams’ alleged demand for money.

In October, the affidavit states, Webb asked Deru to record conversations with Adams about the requested $250,000. Adams allegedly agreed to a deal with Deru: If Deru paid Adams $11,500, the affidavit states, Adams would make sure the civil suit and the theft investigation were closed.

The two planned to meet at the Davis County Justice Court building Oct. 4 to complete the deal, according to the affidavit. But Adams instead was greeted by Webb, who told Adams he was being investigated for theft by extortion.