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SALT LAKE CITY -- A Salt Lake City councilman faces charges in Washington state for allegedly breaking into his former business partner's cottage.
Soren Simonsen is charged with trespassing and malicious mischief after police say he was caught breaking into the cottage of Salt Lake City Planning Commissioner Kathleen Hill, a former business partner, to retrieve some of his belongings.
My former business partner has accused me of being a criminal and malicious. I do hope the court finds my evidence compelling that I was neither criminal nor malicious.
"I hope it can be resolved very quickly and peacefully," Simonsen said during a brief interview Friday, noting that he was working with his former business partner to "resolve some issues."
Simonsen refused to talk Friday to the Deseret News or KSL about his alleged crime.
Police say the incident happened Jan. 16. Simonsen drove to Bellingham, Wash., with his 10-year-old son, allegedly to retrieve personal property, according to police.
Simonsen and Hill used to be business partners, but the partnership had recently gone sour. When it did, Hill had the locks at her cottage changed. At one point, she said Simonsen had a key to the cottage because both had clients in the state of Washington and did business there.
Neighbor Kiki Cardarelli says she saw Simonsen's van pull up, then saw him break into a window, so she went to see what was happening.
"I stopped him and said what was he doing, and did Kathleen know he was here and was he authorized to be doing this," said Cardarelli. "He said yes, and it turned out he was not authorized to be there."
Cardarelli texted Hill, who was at church in Salt Lake City at the time.
"I was shocked. I was flat-out shocked. She said it was Soren and I said, 'Call the police,'" Hill said.
Simonsen was allegedly trying to retrieve a bed frame and drafting table that belonged to him. Hill said Simonsen originally told her to keep those items at her cottage because he didn't have room for them at his house in Utah.
KSL spoke to Kathleen Hill by phone Friday. She says she is upset with the situation because Simonsen e-mailed her a week prior to the break-in, asking her if she would be Salt Lake City for the next week so they could meet to discuss issues related to the business and discuss getting his belongings back.
"He knew that he wasn't authorized to be there, he didn't ask me," Hill said. "When he sent that e-mail saying, ‘Can we get together,' he was just verifying I would be in Salt Lake because he intended to drive up there to get his things without talking to me about it, and all he had to do was ask."
(Simonsen) intended to drive up there to get his things without talking to me about it, and all he had to do was ask.
Hill said the cottage was her own and was not the company's. Although it was used for company business at times, she said she was compensated for those times. Simonsen had sent her an e-mail on Aug. 1, after their partnership dissolved, saying the company would no longer pay for cottage rent.
Hill said she never intended to keep his drafting table.
On his Facebook page Friday, Simonsen posted a message regarding the incident.
"My former business partner has accused me of being a criminal and malicious. I do hope the court finds my evidence compelling that I was neither criminal nor malicious. Thank goodness the law presumes innocence unless proven guilty.
"I have apologized remorsefully to my family for my poor judgment in this incident, and also apologize to my friends and to the people of Salt Lake City who must witness this messy saga."
Simonsen is being charged by police in Washington, but Hill is also seeking nearly $100,000 from Simonsen for what she says is her contribution to the business the two were involved with.
Simonsen is scheduled to be in court in Washington in March. If convicted, he could face up to a year in jail.