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Case against ex-Provo councilman politically-motivated, attorney says

Published: Tuesday, Aug. 28 2012 6:09 p.m. MDT

Ex-Provo Councilman Steve Turley, right, appears in 4th District Court in Provo, alongside his attorney Brett Tolman on fraud counts Aug. 24, 2011.

Francisco Kjolseth, Francisco Kjolseth

PROVO — A hearing on the evidence against former Provo City Councilman Steve Turley was set Tuesday, and his attorney hopes the facts will support his assertion that the charges are politically motivated.

The case against Turley "never should have been brought" and was simply the result of Turley's political enemies banding together, defense attorney Bett Tolman said Tuesday.

"I think this (case) is a result of political pressure," he said. "It has no business being a criminal case. That's our challenge, to bring that to light, and that's what we hope to do."

The two-day preliminary hearing is slated for Oct. 24 and 25. Turley, 44, is facing seven counts of communications fraud, two counts of exploitation of a vulnerable adult and one count of pattern of unlawful activity. All are second-degree felonies.

Turley was charged in July 2011 after allegations arose that he defrauded others for profit in business dealings between July 2006 and December 2009. Turley's colleagues on the City Council called for his resignation, saying his continued presence on the council compromised the city's standards of ethics. Turley refused to resign at that time, instead opting for a leave of absence.

That sparked an internal investigation into allegations of ethical misconduct headed by former 4th District Judge Anthony Schofield. After a 45-day investigation, Schofield concluded that Turley violated the Utah Public Officers' and Employees' Ethics Act in at least five ways, including failing to disclose conflicts of interest and using his office to further his personal economic interests.

Turley resigned Sept. 27. The move came nearly 11 months after 23 Provo residents filed a conflict-of-interest complaint against Turley, citing several instances in which the councilman allegedly used his public position for personal financial gain.

A preliminary hearing was previously set in the case for June 20, but was cancelled after it was determined the judge assigned to the case had been in social situations with the police detective on the case.

E-mail: emorgan@desnews.com

Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam

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