Ex-Utah police chief resolves criminal defamation case with an apology

Published: Wednesday, Jan. 16 2013 12:25 p.m. MST

NAPLES, Uintah County — The city's former police chief has apologized to his successor for using his name to post derogatory comments on a website that honors fallen law enforcement officers.

Naples Police Chief Mark Watkins said he met with his former boss, Steven C. Guibord, earlier this month and that Guibord offered him "a very sincere apology." 

"After he apologized, we actually sat and talked about things and reminisced about old times for about 2 ½ hours," Watkins said, adding that he told Guibord he had forgiven him.

Guibord served as Naples' police chief for 15 years before resigning in August 2008. He was replaced by Watkins, who had served as his second in command.

The former chief's apology was part of a diversion agreement he signed last month in Naples City Justice Court, where he was charged with criminal defamation, a class B misdemeanor.

In 2011, Guibord — posing as Watkins — posted comments on memorial pages for two slain Border Patrol agents that are offensive to law enforcement officers, according to state investigators.

Watkins didn't know the comments had been posted, or that his name had been used, until he began receiving angry emails from current and former Border Patrol agents. He contacted the Officer Down Memorial Page website, which removed the controversial comments and provided information that helped investigators identify the laptop used to post them.

That laptop had been issued to Guibord by the private security company he was working for in Afghanistan in May 2011, according to Watkins.

Naples city leaders sent letters of apology to the families of the two fallen agents, calling Guibord's actions those of a "former disgruntled Naples employee." Watkins also worked with the Border Patrol to ensure that its agents understood what had happened.

"I'm very satisfied with Border Patrol's efforts to clear this up," the chief said.

In addition to the apology, Guibord's diversion agreement requires him to report to the justice court whenever required and have no new criminal violations in the next year. If he complies with those terms, the case will be dismissed.

Watkins said Guibord couldn't offer him an explanation for his behavior, but he's still satisfied with the outcome of the case.

"I think it's better for public officials to be more open and forgiving," Watkins said. "It's a better service to the public if we get this done and resolve it in a positive way."

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

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