AMERICAN FORK — A former Eagle Mountain mayor will go to trial in two weeks with the stipulation that only the judge — not the attorneys — can tell the jury what the law states.

Brian Brent Olsen, 36, faces seven felony charges of misuse of public money for allegedly taking reimbursements from city coffers for conferences he never attended and trips he never made.

Prosecutor Chad Grunander requested in a motion that 4th District Judge David Mortensen limit what defense attorney Ron Yengich could tell the jury regarding the phrase "without the authority of law."

Yengich previously had requested the case be dropped because he maintains that Olsen has not broken any laws.

He explained that there were no established policies for travel reimbursements in the newly organized Eagle Mountain, and as the chief budget officer, Olsen had the ability to decide how he would arrange reimbursements and did nothing wrong by his delayed financial returns.

"The state has said he did this without the authority of law," Yengich said. "I want to ask witnesses what was the authority for this, what were the rules put in place. The jury is entitled to know that."

"I don't think Mr. Grunander is saying you can't show there was an absence of a policy," Mortensen said.

No, they're not, Grunander replied.

"We're simply asking him not to be able to say that the law says there had to be a policy and ordinance in place for him to violate, to (obtain) a guilty verdict," Grunander said.

Grunander maintains that Olsen should have known better and did not have the "authority of law" to be using city funds for personal purposes.

After several minutes of arguing and clarifying, Mortensen made a limited ruling that he would be the only one to interpret the law for the jury during his instruction to them after the evidence.

"If I give a jury instruction on it, then you're free to say, the judge just read you the law," Mortensen told Yengich. "To the extent ... that the attorneys should not define what the law is, the motion is going to be granted."

Olsen's five-day trial begins Sept. 22.


E-mail: sisraelsen@desnews.com