Two men who allegedly helped organize an illegal Halloween party with thousands of attendees when COVID cases were spiking in Utah will have to write letters of apology as part of a plea deal.
Erik Little and Tanner Valerio, the owners of the event-planning group The Tribe Utah, will also have to pay $500 fines, keep the Utah County Justice Court notified of their addresses and not break any laws for the next year as part of their no-contest pleas.
Little and Valerio were charged with disobeying a public health law because of their alleged involvement in the party. That charge could have landed them 180 days in jail, according to court documents filed Monday.
An estimated 10,000 people attended the party, held at The Knolls near Utah Lake. It was held before vaccines became available at a time when COVID cases were spiking throughout the state. The event allegedly violated state guidelines because the hosts did not file a plan with health officials about how they would enforce safety measures like social distancing and wearing face masks. Videos of hundreds of people dancing at the party were circulated on social media.
Utah County Attorney David Leavitt referred to the party as a “superspreader event” and said it hit “right at the heart of the public’s safety.”
Cases were dismissed against several of the nine people who were originally charged in conjunction with the party. A couple cases are ongoing. Alleged organizer Andrew Ivie also agreed to a plea in abeyance, although his plea did not include writing a letter, according to documents filed last week.
Little, Valerio and other alleged event organizers were also each given $10,000 civil fines by the Utah County Health Department. The alleged party planners created a GoFundMe to try to raise money for their fines and legal fees. The page claims Little ended the Halloween party voluntarily at 11:30 p.m. when anticipated attendance was “exceeded by thousands.”
The page, which is still up, has raised $5,854 out of its $76,345 goal.