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Embattled Provo councilman taking leave of absence

By Jared Page | Posted - Jul. 28, 2011 at 4:11 p.m.

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PROVO — Steve Turley is stepping aside — but not down — from his position on the City Council.

The embattled councilman was charged Wednesday with 10 second-degree felonies related to business dealings between July 2006 and December 2009 in which Turley allegedly defrauded others for profit.

In a short, one-sentence email sent Wednesday evening to Council Chairman Richard Healey, Vice Chairwoman Midge Johnson and Mayor John Curtis, Turley informed city leaders he intends to take a leave of absence from the council.

"In light of the charges filed against me today, and out of consideration for Provo city and the council, I will be taking a leave of absence effective immediately," the email reads.

Turley's action falls short of the written request by the mayor and four City Council members that he step down from the office he's held for the past seven ½ years.

"Despite your contributions to the community, we feel that your service cannot continue without compromising the high standards of ethics our community embraces," Curtis and council members Healey, Johnson, Cynthia Dayton and Sherrie Hall-Everett wrote in a letter to Turley dated Tuesday — a day before he was charged.

City spokeswoman Helen Anderson said Turley's decision to take a leave of absence is undefined in city code and "is not recognized as an option."

"It doesn't change what the council and mayor said their next step would be, which is to begin an ethics investigation," Anderson said.

Curtis said his office intends to investigate claims by a group of Provo residents that Turley violated the Municipal Officers' and Employees' Ethics Act by using his elected position for personal gain and failing to disclose conflicts of interest.

That investigation is expected to take four to six weeks.

Attempts to reach Turley for comment have been unsuccessful.

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