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Matthew Stewart family told to stop asking for defense donations, again

Published: Tuesday, March 6 2012 9:16 a.m. MST

Matthew David Stewart 37, appears in court Feb. 7, 2012. Stewart is charged with capital murder in the shooting death of Ogden police Officer Jared Francom.Attorney Dee Smith, pictured Jan. 9, 2012, called a news conference Wednesday to complain about a series of court motions filed by defense attorney Randall Richards in the Matthew Stewart capital murder case.

Leah Hogsten, Leah Hogsten,

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OGDEN — The state is telling the family of a man charged with killing an Ogden police officer to stop soliciting donations online again because their effort still hasn't been approved.

Less than 24 hours after a website for Matthew Stewart resumed collecting donations for Stewart's defense fund, www.helpmatthewstewart.org has once again been forced to stop accepting donations. 

Stewart, 37, is accused of shooting six police officers, killing one of them, as they attempted to serve a search warrant on his Ogden home Jan. 4. He was charged in 2nd District Court with aggravated murder, a capital offense; seven counts of attempted aggravated murder, a first-degree felony; and production of a controlled substance, a second-degree felony. Prosecutors also filed a dangerous weapon penalty enhancement charge and have said they intend to seek the death penalty.

His family wants to raise $70,000 that they feel is needed to mount a proper defense. They've been soliciting donations on the website which also includes a "Remembering Jared Francom" section about the Ogden officer who was killed.

Last week, the Utah Department of Commerce's Division of Consumer Protection sent a letter to Stewart's father informing him that the website may be in violation of the Charitable Solicitations Act because no one ever applied for a permit to solicit donations.

The family took the donation portion of the website down and applied for the permit. Monday, they resumed asking for money online.

But in a prepared statement, the Division of Consumer Protection on Tuesday said that permit is still under review and has not yet been approved.

"The division has 20 days to review the application and determine whether the filing meets applicable requirements. To date, the division has not issued a permit, nor has it given this group permission to continue soliciting donations through their website with an amended disclosure," the statement says. "The division has contacted the attorney for the website's owners and made them aware that they must discontinue solicitations immediately until they come into compliance with the law and obtain a legal permit. Failure to do so will potentially subject this group to a citation and fines."

The department said all groups seeking to solicit donations have to go through the same process, including those soliciting money for Francom's fund. Stewart's fundraising effort was not singled out.

E-mail: preavy@desnews.com Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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