Former Utah police chief charged with criminal defamation

Steven Guibord is accused of using successor's name to insult fallen officers online

Published: Tuesday, Jan. 31 2012 7:10 p.m. MST

NAPLES, Uintah County — Police Chief Mark Watkins says he always felt a sense of camaraderie with his predecessor, Steven C. Guibord, even after Guibord resigned as Naples police chief in August 2008.

"I felt that I had a really good relationship with the chief," said Watkins, who served as a sergeant and a lieutenant under Guibord.

"I never knew he had anything against me," Watkins said.

Which is why it's so hard for Watkins to understand why Guibord might want to harm his reputation.

Guibord — posing as Watkins — posted comments on memorial pages for two Border Patrol agents that are offensive to law enforcement officers, according to state investigators.

Agents Eduardo Rojas Jr., 35, and Hector R. Clark, 39, were killed in May 2011, after their patrol vehicle was hit by a train while they were assisting other Border Patrol agents near Gila Bend, Ariz. Both men had served with the Border Patrol for more than a decade. They were both married and each had two children. 

Clark's page on the Officer Down Memorial Page website included a comment attributed to Watkins that said, "I realize that the Border Patrol is just a security organization, but we, in the police services recognize your sacrifice."

Rojas' page contained a similar comment, also attributed to Watkins, that referred to the Border Patrol as a "security business."

For those in the law enforcement community, being identified as a security guard is considered a serious insult.

Watkins had no idea the comments had been posted or that his name had been used.

"I started getting email messages in my city email from Border Patrol agents and ex-Border Patrol agents about my derogatory comments," he said. "I have the utmost respect for the Border Patrol agents and what they do. They have a tough job down there on the border."

The Officer Down Memorial Page website removed the controversial comments at Watkins' request. It also provided him with the IP address for the person who posted the comments.

Investigators say they tracked that IP address to a laptop that had been issued to Guibord by the private security company he was working for in Afghanistan in May 2011. 

Naples city leaders also sent letters of apology to the families of the two fallen agents, calling Guibord's alleged actions those of a "former disgruntled Naples employee."

Guibord, 56, was charged Friday in Uintah County Justice Court with criminal defamation, a class B misdemeanor. He did not respond to efforts by the Deseret News to contact him Tuesday.

Guibord, who served as Naples police chief for 15 years and worked for the Provo Police Department before that, is scheduled to be arraigned Feb. 23.

Watkins said he takes no pleasure in seeing his former boss charged with a crime.

"No. No comfort whatsoever," the chief said. "It's very disappointing."

E-mail: gliesik@desnews.com, Twitter: GeoffLiesik

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