A Kaysville city councilman on Thursday canceled a trial that might have provided more details into a dispute over a tractor-trailer dolly that triggered an extortion investigation into the councilman.
Councilman Dave Adams had reported that Daren Deru, a Layton businessman had stolen his dolly. When the theft investigation didn’t result in charges, Adams filed a small claims lawsuit against Deru in July.
Meanwhile, the police investigation into the alleged theft of the dolly triggered an extortion investigation into Adams. No charges have been filed against Adams.
A Davis County Justice Court judge on Thursday morning approved a request from Adams’ attorney to cancel the small claims trial set for the afternoon. Adams’ attorney has also filed papers to dismiss the suit.
Adams plans to refile the case in district court because “other facts” have come to light, said attorney Brian Arnold, who declined to elaborate.
The lawsuit, filed on July 20, is against Daren Deru; his company, Bulldog Sod; and several members Deru’s family. Adams said in the suit that he was owed $10,000.
Recently released records from Farmington police report that the dolly in question had been on a Layton property that belongs to Adams’ father.
Adams had reported the dolly as stolen in August 2016. Investigations by Farmington police didn’t find sufficient evidence of theft, and instead, the Davis County Attorney’s Office opened an extortion investigation into Adams for allegedly demanding that if Deru didn’t pay him $250,000 for the dolly, he’d report him for theft.
The dispute started in August of 2016, when Adams reported his dolly stolen to Kaysville police, according to a Farmington police report. At the time, he didn’t have documentation, and the investigation didn’t go anywhere.
Four months later, Adams told Kaysville police that he found the dolly on a Layton property his father owns, but connected to Bulldog Sod trailers. The police officer Adams spoke to is the son of a Bulldog Sod employee, and Adams is a Kaysville city councilman, so the case was passed to Farmington police.
Adams gave the police photographs he had taken on the Layton property, as well as photos of the dolly when he’d used it during an Independence Day parade.
But the photos weren’t usable, since the parade photo was taken from too far away, the report states.
The Farmington officer asked for documentation that proved Adams had bought the dolly in 2014, as he said he had. As of Jan. 31, Adams hadn’t provided the documentation and the investigation was closed.
In February, Adams brought a bill of sale to the police, and said the dolly was still in Layton, but wasn’t hooked up to the trailer anymore.
The police officer went to Layton and saw the trailer, unconnected to anything, in the weeds next to storage units Adams’ father owns.
The Davis County Attorney’s Office declined to prosecute, based on lack of evidence. Instead, Farmington police asked Davis County prosecutors to investigate Adams for allegedly extorting Deru.
After the Farmington investigation didn’t lead to charges, Davis County Sheriff Todd Richardson 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 an affidavit for a search warrant.
Adams may have tried to use the reopened investigation to leverage a “payoff” from Deru, the affidavit states, as Adams continued to call Deru, reportedly to demand money. Adams also reportedly called Deru’s father, Curt Deru, who is also named in the lawsuit.
In October, Deru — at the instruction of Craig Webb, an investigator with the Davis County Attorney’s Office — recorded conversations with Adams discussing the trailer and the $250,000.
In those conversations, Adams and Deru struck a deal: If Deru paid Adams $11,500, Adams would make sure the civil suit and the theft investigation were closed, the affidavit states.
The two planned to meet. But Adams was instead greeted by Webb, who told Adams he was being investigated for theft by extortion.