FARMINGTON — An employee for a signature-gathering company was charged Tuesday with forging signatures of Davis County voters on petitions on three political issues.
Paul James Patterson, 38, of Layton, faces three counts of misconduct of electors or officers, a class A misdemeanor, after the Davis County Clerk's Office became suspicious of signatures he had gathered on initiatives for medical cannabis, direct primary elections and school funding.
Patterson, who was an employee for Gather and had been hired to collect signatures from registered voters in Davis County, turned in 12 petitions with about 70 signatures apiece, charging documents state. He was paid $1.22 per name.
But when the Davis County Clerk's Office began reviewing the petitions, suspicion emerged.
The clerk's office flagged information on the petitions that appeared altered or changed, "patterns of strangeness with canvasing" and a signature from one person who was found to be deceased, charges state.
Investigators in the Davis County Attorney's Office then tracked down multiple people named on the petitions who insisted "they absolutely did not sign the petitions," the charges state.
"Paul was cooperative when interviewed and admitted to forging all of the names on all three packets he turned in related to the petitions," according to the charges. "It was also corroborated that he used the name of at least one deceased person and forged her signature."
Curtis Koch, clerk/auditor for Davis County, emphasized in a news release Wednesday the efforts his office goes to in order to safeguard the election process.
"As petitions are submitted to the clerk's office, every single signature is reviewed and compared with the voter record. All petitions submitted by this individual were identified and pulled from the petition process," Koch said.
Koch said it is not required for a signature gatherer to live in the county, be a registered voter or complete a criminal background check. They only need to be 18 years old and a resident of Utah.
An initial appearance for Patterson is scheduled for April 1.Comment on this story
A search of Utah court records reveals that Patterson faced multiple charges of theft by deception, communications fraud and possession of a forgery device, which were ultimately dismissed. In March 2001 he pleaded guilty to attempted sexual exploitation of a minor, a class A misdemeanor. In October 2000 he was convicted of interfering with a legal arrest and driving under the influence, class B misdemeanors.
The most recent case against Patterson was filed in August 2014, when police said they found him passed out in a vehicle in possession of drug paraphernalia and methamphetamine. Those charges were dismissed in April 2016.