VERNAL — An award-winning real estate broker known to many in the Uintah Basin as the public face of a major retail development project in Vernal has been charged with forging federal termite inspection records.

Kyle David Ashworth, 30, was charged Thursday in 8th District Court with 31 counts of forgery and 20 counts of communications fraud, all third-degree felonies. He is also charged with engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, a second-degree felony.

From February 2011 to September 2012, Ashworth forged the signature of a licensed pesticide applicator on a number of New Construction Subterranean Termite Soil Treatment records, according to Vernal Assistant Police Chief Keith Campbell.

The document is required by the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development before construction can begin on any HUD-insured structure.

Ashworth also forged the signature of the builder on another HUD termite form, as well as other signatures authorizing the sale of homes, Campbell said.

"These were clear forgeries," the assistant chief said. "The people whose names were signed had no idea he was signing their names."

Vernal police and the office of HUD's inspector general were involved in the investigation, which is still ongoing, according to Campbell.

Ashworth was named Coldwell Banker's top sales agent in 2012 for its affiliate offices in Utah. He is also a recipient of the Uintah Basin Board of Realtors Presidential Award.

For more than a year, Ashworth has been the public face in the Uintah Basin of the Vernal Towne Center. The 26-acre retail project is being built by Gardner Development, the same firm behind The Gateway in Salt Lake City.

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Investigators, however, say the evidence they have collected shows that the alleged forgeries are all tied to Ashworth's dealings in residential properties.

Ashworth's attorney, Stephen Howard, said Friday he had not yet received copies of the police reports and, therefore, was not ready to comment on the allegations against his client.

"Mr. Ashworth is aware of the charges and looks forward to having an opportunity to address the case at an appropriate time and in an appropriate forum," Howard said.

Police served Ashworth with a summons Thursday night. He is set to make his first court appearance June 3.