SALT LAKE CITY — The mayor of Parowan has been charged with stealing from a previous employer.
Preston Griffiths, 51, of Parowan, was charged on March 7 with theft, a class A misdemeanor, in 5th District Court. The Iron County Attorney's Office is prosecuting the case, which was investigated by the Cedar City Police Department to avoid a conflict of interest with Parowan police.
The alleged incident happened in December, according to the attorney's office.
"Mr. Griffiths is accused of taking inventory from a previous employer at a discounted rate, for which he was not authorized," according to a prepared statement from the office.
Griffiths was previously a Parowan police officer and was the chief of the department from July 2003 to 2012. He became mayor in 2018. City officials confirmed Tuesday that the "previous employer" he was allegedly stealing from was not the police department.
A class A misdemeanor means the value of the property allegedly taken was worth between $500 and $1,500.
His initial appearance in court was scheduled for March 26.
Parowan city officials released a brief statement Tuesday saying they were aware of the allegations but had not reviewed any police reports.
"Until the city has received more information, it will honor the proper course and conduct of our judicial system, including the presumption that Mr. Griffiths is deemed innocent until a jury of his peers or a judge declares otherwise," according to the statement.
Parowan officials added that the city "has not been financially harmed nor does it have any direct financial involvement in this matter," stating the allegations are in connection to Griffiths' "personal life."
Griffiths was also charged with obstructing justice, a class A misdemeanor, and official misconduct, a class B misdemeanor, in 2011 in 5th District Court. The charges were the result of Griffiths fatally shooting a dog while police chief.
According to court records, Griffiths settled the case with a "diversion agreement," which is similar to a plea in abeyance. The charges against him were dropped after he followed all the terms of his agreement — which included no new arrests — for six months, court records state.Comment on this story
Parowan city officials also reviewed the matter and "disciplined" Griffiths for the shooting, though his punishment was not revealed. The Utah Council on Peace Officer Standards and Training also investigated the incident but took no action.
That same year, Griffiths announced his retirement but later stated his intention to sue the city, claiming he was forced into retirement.
Correction: A previous version incorrectly stated charges were filed in 1st District Court. Charges were filed in 5th District Court.