The Utah attorney general's office has concluded its investigation into allegations of impropriety against Morgan County Sheriff Burt Holbrook - and has found no cause to file any criminal charges.
"No probable cause exists for the filing of a criminal information against Sheriff Holbrook," said assistant attorney general David Thomas. Holbrook was investigated for allegations of criminal witness tampering.The complaint originated from the Vernal police department and alleged that Holbrook contacted Vernal Police Chief Robert Downard and encouraged him to pressure Vernal police officer Keith Squires to speak highly of Holbrook - the officer's former boss - should he be subpoenaed in a pending civil suit naming the sheriff, Downard said.
Holbrook would not talk to the Deseret News, but his attorney, Fred Wasilewski, said he was not surprised at the announcement.
"I was absolutely certain that they would simply close their investigation. There was nothing there to substantiate the claims of witness tampering."
Downard said Thursday he had not been contacted by the attorney general's office but said if that is the decision, he is satisfied with it.
"I was willing to cooperate if there was a case . . . and I don't feel bad if it isn't prosecuted," he said.
"Had it been something I could have lived with, I wouldn't have gotten involved with it in the first place," Downard said. "My main purpose in this is I'm not going to put up with that as a professional police officer. And I won't have my officers put up with it."
Downard said, however, "Our purposes have been served."
"As long as my officer is not getting harassed, then I'll let Morgan County handle their own problems."
Wasilewski, who is also an attorney for the American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees, said he hopes to find out who "must have started the rumors and snowballed this thing." Civil suits may result from those investigations, he said.
The Uintah County attorney's office originally investigated the complaint against Holbrook before it was turned over to the attorney general's office, but Uintah County deputy attorney Alan Williams would not say whether or not his office would continue to investigate the complaint.
"Allegations were made, and an investigation was initiated. We sent it to the attorney general's office and we haven't heard anything," he said Wednesday.
Downard chastised many members of the media who, he said, have implied that the investigation was a personal thing between him and Holbrook. "You're talking about a guy that I've met twice," he said. "It's not a personal thing. It never was."