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District Attorney's Office mulling Babka charges

District Attorney's Office mulling Babka charges


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COTTONWOOD HEIGHTS -- The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office now has the results of an investigation into Cottonwood Heights police officer Beau Babka's conduct and will mull whether to file charges.

District Attorney Sim Gill confirmed Friday that his office had received the information and would be reviewing it.

"That screening does not equate guilt," Gill said. "Further, the filing of charges does not equate guilt. If we do file charges, we will base it on the evidence that has been presented to us."

Cottonwood Heights Police Chief Robby Russo said he is confident in the evidence that has been collected.

"If I didn't think there was a criminal violation here for using city money for personal gain, I wouldn't have taken it to the district attorney's office," he said. While Russo has declined to go into the specifics, sources have told the Deseret News that Babka was using a city credit card to purchase fuel for his personal use.

The Deseret News obtained Babka's fuel expenditures from Nov. 11 through Dec. 29. According to the records, Babka made 27 purchases -- on some occasions making multiple purchases in once day.

Prior to that time, Babka was vying for the Salt Lake County sheriff post and utilizing a personal vehicle. Russo said Babka turned in his police vehicle and fuel card after he was selected as the Republican candidate for sheriff. An analysis of Babka's previous spending habits have revealed "nothing glaring," Russo said.

When Babka returned to his post in the police department following his loss to incumbent Sheriff Jim Winder, Russo said he was given a patrol vehicle and a charge card. He said Babka was driving a Dodge Charger with a 19-gallon fuel tank, but said it was "tough" to get all 19 gallons out of it.

"You usually get about 17 and a half," he said.

On Nov. 29, Babka bought 7.3 gallons at a Draper gas station before buying 12.2 more gallons at the same station 20 minutes later. On Dec. 12, he purchased gas three separate times, buying 12 gallons in the morning, seven gallons later that evening and another eight gallons 18 minutes later.

The records do not indicate what vehicle he was driving when the purchases were made. Babka was put on paid administrative leave pending an in-house investigation Dec. 27.

He has not returned multiple calls for comment. Russo said officers generally can't comment on internal affairs investigations.

Gill didn't have a specific timeline for when charges may be filed, noting that prosecutors will first review the quality and quantity of the evidence they have and whether it could hold up in a trial.

"We're going through and doing our due diligence," Gill said. "We're treating it like any other case."

E-mail: emorgan@ksl.com

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