A man accused of orchestrating a fraudulent fundraiser that advertised Sen. Kamala Harris’ presence in Utah was officially charged in Carbon County, Wyo., on Friday after being pulled over in a stolen car.
Adrain Swensen, who was operating under the alias Adrian Hebdon while in Utah, had been working with The Wave co-working space in Salt Lake City to bring in Harris for two ticketed events, a luncheon and a fundraiser dinner. The July 17 event was promoted on the Wave’s website and Facebook page, in emailed invitations and was covered in Utah media outlets.
Utah residents enthusiastically purchased tickets. But a Utah stop was never on Harris’ schedule and the campaign on Tuesday issued a cease-and-desist letter to Hebdon.
Swensen, who also went by the name Adrian Noe, has a long history of criminal activity across several states, including an arrest for stealing money from the Red Cross while acting as a volunteer for the charity in Iowa and for credit card fraud in Texas.
After news broke that the Harris event was a hoax, Wave CEO and co-founder Joanna Smith told The Tribune that Swensen/Hebdon/Noe had vanished with her car. The Salt Lake City Police Department confirmed that the car had been reported stolen and they had issued an alert. Speaking to The Tribune on Wednesday, Hebdon said he had borrowed the car with permission and would have it back in Utah by 11 a.m. Thursday.
Swensen was pulled over in Rawlins, Wyo., Thursday at 11:41 a.m. by Officer Matthew Harnisch for driving 10 mph over the speed limit, according to a Carbon County affidavit. Swensen was unable to provide Harnisch with a driver license and had an insurance card that expired in 2014. And when Harnisch learned that the vehicle Swensen was driving had been reported stolen, he arrested Swensen and his husband, who has outstanding warrants in other states.
The car in question is registered to Mark Barnes, co-founder of The Wave and Joanna Smith’s husband.
The alleged fraudster was charged with wrongful taking of property, driving with a suspended license, failure to maintain liability coverage and speeding. His bail was set at $5,000 and he is not allowed to leave Wyoming until his court date on July 19.
Salt Lake City Police Detective Michael Ruff said the car case will be handled in Wyoming. It is separate from the fraud case investigation, which is ongoing in Utah.
The actual relationship between Hebdon and the campaign is still murky. He posted several pictures on social media in which he appears close to the Senator at events and claims he was an authorized fundraiser, but he never had an official campaign email address. At least $6,000 from dinner ticket sales was delivered to the campaign, which it is in the process of refunding, according to a campaign statement statement.
A luncheon that was supposed to feature Harris alongside three other panelists, including Salt Lake County Sheriff Rosie Rivera, will still take place, but The Wave is issuing refunds to those who want them, according to Smith.