The head of the Utah Farm Bureau Federation is taking “a leave of absence” after he was arrested this week for allegedly hitting an employee at his Weber County farm.
In addition to the reported assault, Ron Bennett Gibson is also under investigation for human trafficking and fraud, according to the police.
Gibson, 50, was charged Thursday with one count of assault, a class B misdemeanor.
On Tuesday, members of the Weber County Sheriff’s Office say they were called to western Weber County after getting a report of an assault. An employee told deputies he was assaulted by his boss, whom he identified as Gibson, according to a probable cause affidavit filed by the sheriff’s office Tuesday.
The employee told law enforcement that he and other co-workers had not been given their last four paychecks, according to the document. He confronted Gibson, which led to a verbal altercation, the affidavit says.
The affidavit says police viewed a video that depicted Gibson telling the man in Spanish to “shut up” before hitting him in the face. The hit caused the man’s mouth to bleed, which required medical attention, according to the document.
Gibson was booked into the Weber County Jail and has been released.
On Friday, however, the sheriff’s office issued a news release saying further investigation into Gibson was ongoing, but not for assault.
“The investigation has also brought to light allegations of fraud and human trafficking, which are currently being thoroughly investigated by the Department of Public Safety’s Special Bureau of Investigation,” the news release said.
In a statement Friday afternoon, the Utah Farm Bureau announced Gibson would take a leave of absence and step away from his position, “following an incident involving an employee on his farm.”
Included in the statement was an apology from Gibson, saying he is taking the leave “because I don’t want this personal matter to become a distraction from the important work of the federation.”
“I deeply regret the incident and apologize for allowing an argument to escalate to an altercation on my farm,” Gibson said in the written statement. “I’m disappointed in myself. I have deep respect for the men and women willing to work on farms across America, including mine. I simply could not manage the farm without their help, and we wouldn’t have the abundance we do in this country without them.”
Gibson is backing away from being the president of the Utah Farm Bureau, according to its website. He is a sixth-generation farmer who produces dairy, corn and alfalfa, his biography says.