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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- City officials have taken a step toward handing out the rewards that were offered for kidnapping victim Elizabeth Smart's safe return: They have started collecting the $250,000 donors had pledged for the rewards.
Josh Ewing, spokesman for Mayor Rocky Anderson, said he expected the money to be collected by the end of the week.
Some of the donors have been on vacation and unavailable. Once they return, the mayor's office will be able to collect all of the funds, Ewing said.
After that it may be another week before the recipients are announced. They will be notified by the mayor's office and then asked whether they want their names released, Ewing said.
Smart, then 14, was taken from her bedroom June 5. On March 12, she was spotted on a street in Salt Lake City suburb of Sandy with two transients who have been charged with her kidnapping.
More than a dozen people have been nominated for rewards, including those who spotted her captors and her little sister Mary Katherine Smart, who eventually said that the abductor resembled Brian Mitchell, who with his wife, Wanda Barzee, is charged in the kidnapping.
The family has said that Mary Katherine receives any money, it will be donated to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children.
An in-depth investigation has had to be made into who called police and when, and what information led to what results, Ewing said.
He said the goal is to protect taxpayer interest and avoid any potential legal action by someone who isn't happy with the reward distribution.
"Everyone is making sure this is done correctly and done right," Ewing said.
A separate $45,000 reward, funded partly by city and FBI money, for information leading to the successful prosecution of those responsible for Smart's abduction, cannot be awarded until there has been a conviction in the case.
(Copyright 2003 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)