Gary Ott, Salt Lake County Recorder: Still Incompetent; Karmen Sanone, the Recorder’s Secretary and Purported Girlfriend, and Julie Dole, the Recorder’s Deputy: Still on the Gravy Train
By Ken K. Gourdin
I first commented on Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott’s situation last October. A Grantsville, Utah police officer in Tooele County reportedly found a confused, nearly-incoherent Mr. Ott wandering around in freezing temperatures in the vicinity of his vehicle, which had a dead battery, last year. Salt Lake City’s Deseret News recently posted audio of a lengthy interview the News’ Katie McKellar had with Mr. Ott on its Web site. Near the end of that interview, Mr. Ott says, “Today I got to talk.” While Mr. Ott is incoherent throughout much of the interview, to me, the implication of that particular statement is clear: “Usually, Karmen and Julie keep a pretty good muzzle on me, but today, I got to talk.” For my previous commentary on the situation, see here, this and all other links last accessed June 9, 2017:
In the above-linked post, I wondered if those closest to Mr. Ott might be guilty of exploiting him. One of the complexities of the situation, though, is that whatever else they may be guilty of, the conduct of two of Mr. Ott’s closest professional associates probably does not fit exploitation as that crime is defined under Utah law. I made that point in response to recent Deseret News coverage of Mr. Ott’s situation, coverage which can be found here: http://www.deseretnews.com/article/865681671/Embattled-recorder-Gary-Otts-sister-accuses-top-staff-of-manipulation.html
To all of the attorneys on the site who have determined that Ms. [Julie] Dole [Mr. Ott’s Chief Deputy] and Ms. [Karmen] Sanone [Mr. Ott’s secretary and reported wife, girlfriend, or significant other] should be prosecuted for Abuse, Neglect, or Exploitation of a Vulnerable Adult under Utah Code Annotated Title 76, Chapter 5, § 111. Keep in mind, County Attorney Sim Gill is a Democrat. He has no political incentive to protect the subordinates of Mr. Ott, who is a Republican, so if it were really that simple, he would simply charge Ms. Dole and/or Ms. Sanone under that statute and be done with the matter. I’m not arguing that neither Dole nor Sanone have done anything criminal or unethical, but they probably haven’t violated that particular statute.
I’m not an attorney, but I’ve read the statute. Broadly and generally speaking, abuse involves some form of active mistreatment. Whatever they’re doing, it isn’t that. Neglect involves not caring for someone’s basic needs when he’s unable to care for himself. Whatever they’re doing (or not), it isn’t that. To exploit someone means to get him to use his own resources for someone else’s benefit. Since the resources involved come from the County and not from Mr. Ott, that provision of the statute probably doesn’t apply.
In response to the foregoing, another poster, directing his reply to me, pointed me that Utah law mandates that anyone who reasonably believes that abuse, neglect, or exploitation of a vulnerable adult is occurring has a duty to report such mistreatment to the appropriate law enforcement agency. I responded:
Thank you for referring me to Utah Code Ann. Title 62A, Chapter 3, § 305. It would seem that this particular provision of Utah law has been satisfied by Jeremy Roberts [who apparently is a friend of Mr. Ott] notifying the County Attorney of potential exploitation of Mr. Ott and requesting that the County Attorney investigate the matter, would it not? (If you believe, for some reason, that Mr. Roberts’ notification is insufficient, perhaps you could explain why you believe that.)
If Mr. Roberts’ notifying the County Attorney of his concerns is sufficient to satisfy that particular provision, it seems to me that the issue is not that no one, pursuant to 62A-3-305, has notified law enforcement that exploitation may be occurring, but, rather, whether such exploitation is, in fact, occurring, and, if so, what should be done about it.
Salt Lake Tribune coverage of the situation can be found at the following address: http://www.sltrib.com/news/5377363-155/gary-ott-should-resign-sl-county . In response to commentary on Salt Lake Tribune coverage of the situation, in response to another poster who implied that Ms. Dole and Ms. Sanone are guilty of exploitation, I responded:
I had the very same thought as you did before I read the exploitation statute. Again, I’m not suggesting that Mr. Ott’s subordinates are not engaged in some form of unethical or illegal conduct, but that conduct does not appear to violate Utah Code Ann. §76-5-111. Exploitation is covered in Subparagraph (4), and it makes clear that in order to be guilty of exploitation, the exploiter must facilitate the misuse of the vulnerable adult’s own resources for the exploiter’s benefit. Since the resources in question, rather than being Mr. Ott’s personal resources, are the County’s resources, the statute doesn’t seem to apply. If I am wrong, and if, in fact, the statute does apply, why hasn’t County Attorney Sim Gill, a Democrat who has no incentive to protect the subordinates of Mr. Ott (a Republican), filed criminal charges in the matter?
Another poster, in response to Tribune coverage, excoriated Utah voters, as though they voted for Mr. Ott knowing that he was suffering from diminished capacity. Tribune coverage can be found here: http://www.sltrib.com/news/5377363-155/gary-ott-should-resign-sl-county. I responded:
I don’t know about you, but if I lived in Salt Lake County and someone’s mental fitness for the [position] to which he was seeking election were in question, I wouldn’t vote for him. I think, whatever else you can say about Utah voters, that the same is true of many/most of them. I would like to know what Salt Lake County Republican Party officials knew and when they knew it, and whether they allowed Mr. Ott’s campaign to go forward despite any questions that should have been raised. I would also like to know what role, if any, Karmen Sanone and Julie Dole played in Mr. Ott’s reelection.
When another poster, in response to Tribune coverage, accused Mr. Ott of “ripping off” Salt Lake County voters, I replied, “I doubt Mr. Ott, in his current mental state, could form the requisite intent to do that.” Similarly, when another poster made a similar accusation, I responded:
Theft requires an intent to deprive the owner of property. I doubt Mr. Ott has the mental state required to form the necessary intent. Now, if you want to argue that other people ([COUGH-COUGH]Julie Dole and Karmen Sanone[/COUGH-COUGH]) are exploiting the situation for their own purposes and benefit, you’ll have a much better argument.