Brown Lawn Results in Charges Against Orem Woman

Brown Lawn Results in Charges Against Orem Woman

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OREM, Utah (AP) -- The city is pressing charges against a 70-year-old woman who was arrested in a dispute over her brown lawn, an attorney said Wednesday.

Betty Perry was taken to a holding cell July 6 before she was released by red-faced police officials. The mayor and City Council apologized for her treatment.

But city attorney Paul Johnson said he's sticking to the facts: He claims Perry failed to follow an Orem ordinance that requires property owners to maintain their landscaping. "We don't make our decision based on what political leaders do or think. ... There's a huge other side of the story," Johnson said Wednesday. "There's a violation that needs to be corrected."

Besides the brown lawn, Perry is accused of resisting arrest. Two misdemeanor charges were filed Aug. 17, and she is due in court Sept. 18, Johnson said.

There is no dispute that she refused to cooperate when Officer James Flygare arrived at her house last month to talk about her dead grass and foot-high weeds. Perry's water apparently had been turned off at her request.

As she walked back into the house pulling Flygare, Perry tripped and fell against the door jam, injuring her nose, according to the Utah Department of Public Safety, which investigated at the request of Orem police.

She was handcuffed and taken to an Orem holding cell. The state investigation found Flygare's actions were proper, although his bosses have said the incident could have been handled differently.

Johnson said Perry and her brown lawn are not being treated unfairly. He said 11 cases "for the exact same thing" have been filed against other residents since April.

After Perry's arrest, Mayor Jerry Washburn and the City Council apologized, saying they were "shocked and dismayed" by what happened.

Washburn declined to give an opinion on Johnson's decision to file charges. "That's his call," the mayor said Wednesday.

KSL News contacted Perry this evening. She refused to comment and is referring all questions to her lawyer.

(Copyright 2007 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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