Ex-Days of '47 rodeo chairman charged with embezzling funds
Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News
SALT LAKE CITY — The former rodeo chairman of the Days of '47 celebration and a retired sheriff's deputy has been charged with fraud and embezzlement.
Over a 10-year period, prosecutors say Brad Floyd Harmon took more than $305,000 from Days of '47 sponsors and deposited the money into two bank accounts for his own personal use.
Harmon, 53, of Taylorsville, was charged in 3rd District Court Thursday with unlawful dealing of property by a fiduciary, communications fraud and pattern of unlawful activity, all second-degree felonies.
Harmon established a nonprofit called Days of '47 Rodeo, Inc., which had no official association with the nonprofit Days of '47 Inc., and opened a personal account at Wells Fargo in 2002, said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. Days of '47 is a state trademark name.
A detective who looked at all checks deposited in Harmon's Wells Fargo account since July of 2005 noted that they were all "written out to Days of '47 Rodeo or a slight variation of that name," according to charging documents.
A second account was opened at Cyprus Credit Union in 2011. Investigators found more than $36,000 deposited to that account, with all checks written out to Days of 47 Rodeo or Days of 47, including a check for nearly $16,000 by Wrangler Clothing.
Days of '47 President Craig Peterson declined comment on the ongoing case, but did note to sponsors: "From our prescriptive the organization is solvent and sound and we are moving forward with the events this year as we have since 1848."
One year ago, the nonprofit group that runs Salt Lake's annual Days of '47 celebration fired Harmon and filed a civil lawsuit against him. He had been chairman of the rodeo since the 1997 death of his father, Floyd "Flip" Harmon, who had served as acting president of the Days of '47 for several years and was chairman of the rodeo committee. The lawsuit was filed after an internal investigation was launched due to the Wrangler money. An out-of-court settlement was reached in that civil case.
For years, money from the profit-making rodeo portion of Days of '47 Inc. helped pay for its other Pioneer Day events, but began “generating significant losses” once Brad Harmon became chairman, the civil lawsuit alleged.
Harmon, who worked for many years as a Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy, is scheduled to appear in court on Thursday.
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