FARMINGTON — After learning that the deal for a former South Weber councilman accused of embezzlement was done in secret, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings is pushing for an agreement to make the resolution public.
Rawlings has no qualms with the terms of the resolution, which closed the case short of a conviction, but insists there's no reason for the details to be sealed.
William Michael Poff, 44, was charged in March 2014 with three counts of communications fraud, a second-degree felony, after prosecutors said he embezzled more than $200,000 from an assisted living center he used to manage. The charges each carried a potential penalty of at least one year and up to 15 years in prison. He pleaded not guilty to the charges in July 2014.
After nearly four years of the case dragging through 2nd District Court, Poff had been scheduled to appear for a disposition hearing — his fourth — next week. But instead, the case was quietly brought up in court Dec. 15 and dismissed as part of a "diversion" agreement, which was filed under seal.
Under the diversion — which suspends prosecution in exchange for a defendant complying with agreed upon terms — Poff has not been convicted of any offense. With the agreement sealed, it is unknown whether Poff has been ordered to pay restitution.
Rawlings was unaware of the deal until it was reported Thursday, but said that isn't surprising because he chooses not to micromanage the prosecutors in his office.
He is now calling for the details of the diversion to be made public, and in order to avoid any more courtroom battles, has tasked the prosecutor who handled the case, Rick Westmoreland, to get Poff and his attorney to stipulate to unsealing the agreement.
"Rick's decision on how the case was resolved is defensible, the problem is that it wasn't made public and we're working on changing that," Rawlings said.
Westmoreland said Thursday that the relatively uncommon agreement worked for all parties involved.
"We got it worked out," Westmoreland said. "This was just a matter of everybody coming together and doing what was in the best interest of everyone."
Westmoreland said he had only used a diversion agreement two or three times during his more than 20-year career.
Poff's attorney was unavailable for comment Thursday and Friday.
Poff was two years into his four-year term as a South Weber councilman when the charges were filed. He served out the remainder of his term and did not seek re-election in 2015.4 comments on this story
According to charging documents, Poff managed the assisted living center in Bountiful from 2008 to 2010. During that time, prosecutors said he applied for several credit cards in his name, made several thousand dollars' worth of purchases on them and then used proceeds from the assisted living center to pay off his debt, according to charging documents.
At the same time, Poff took out several credit cards in the name of the business and racked up several thousand more dollars worth of purchases for items investigators say were for his personal use, the charges state. He was also accused of depositing several thousand dollars from the business into his personal bank accounts.