Southern Utah innkeeper accused of bilking elderly guest of $50,000

(Photo courtesy of Sevier County Jail) Edward Alan Bahr

A Hanksville innkeeper is in custody, facing dozens of charges for allegedly exploiting an elderly long-term guest who had entrusted him with her money.

Authorities say a search of the Hanksville Inn on Saturday also yielded evidence that Edward Alan Bahr illegally kept firearms and methamphetamine with intent to distribute.

Wayne County sheriff’s deputies executed a warrant in search of financial records and also found 8 grams of methamphetamine, scales, drug paraphernalia, a rifle, and ammunition of various calibers, according to Sheriff Dan Jensen. As a convicted felon, Bahr is not permitted to possess firearms.

The Hanksville Inn is just one of two hotels in the southern Utah town surrounded with such scenic wonders as Horseshoe Canyon, San Rafael Swell, Henry Mountains, Capitol Reef National Park, Factory Butte and Goblin Valley State Park. Located on State Road 24, Hanksville is about the only town on the 105-mile stretch between Green River and Torrey.

The town’s namesake inn is the subject of scathing reviews posted online by numerous customers unhappy with the sloppy condition of the motel and with management’s insistence on charging them full fare after canceling reservations. The motel’s website was down Tuesday and no one answered the phone.

Bahr’s alleged victim had moved to Hanksville two years ago after selling a home in Arizona, the sheriff said. She took up residence in the Hanksville Inn and put the proceeds of the home sale in a Loa bank. Last July, Bahr and the victim opened a joint checking account attached to the victim’s money, which was to be used for the victim’s needs, according to charging documents filed Tuesday in 6th District Court.

Over the next few months, Bahr, who had obtained power of attorney, siphoned about $50,000 from the account through a number of withdrawals the woman never authorized, according to Jensen.

“He had been traveling around on her dime,” the sheriff said.

The matter came to the sheriff’s attention in October, when bank staff became suspicious of Bahr’s handling of the account and reported it. Adult Protective Services became involved and helped relocate the woman to a safer residence.

Based on a report by a caseworker, sheriff’s investigators searched the bank’s records in January and uncovered “a pattern of the suspect transferring large amounts from the victim’s accounts and showed numerous withdrawals from ATM machines, car rentals, vacations, and large transfers [to] the suspect’s personal and business accounts.”

After several attempts by investigators to contact the victim, she spoke with sheriff’s Deputy Brandon Burr on Friday.

“The suspect had agreed to be her guardian and caretaker, but [she] had never given him permission to use her money for any other purpose than her care and medical costs,” states an affidavit Burr prepared in support of 33 counts filed against Bahr.

“When she confronted him about about his use of her money, he threatened to have her placed in a care center,” Burr’s affidavit states. “She states her fear of the suspect kept her from being willing to speak with me until recently and after she had moved out of the Hanksville Inn.”

She knew he had weapons and he had “intimated to her that he could use them if he felt threatened.”

At a bail hearing Tuesday, Judge Mark McIff ordered bail set at $200,000. Bahr remains in the Sevier County jail awaiting arraignment.