Stewart family halts fundraising

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP)-- The family of a man charged with killing one police officer and wounding five others during an Ogden drug raid last month has halted their online efforts to raise money for his defense.

Matthew Stewart faces capital murder and other charges following the Jan. 4 raid at his home. His family told The Salt Lake Tribune ( they received a letter Thursday from the Utah Division of Consumer Protection saying they may be violating state law.

Stewart's father, Michael, said the fundraising portion of the family's website devoted to his son's legal defense has been removed until the family can get a required permit.

"We don't want to break the law," he said.

Division Director Traci Gunderson said the family must register for a permit with the state as a charity under the Charitable Solicitations Act, which is designed to protect the public from fraud.

Our standard operation procedure is when we become aware of solicitations being made, we send out a notice.

–- Traci Gunderson

Michael Stewart said he submitted an application for a permit and a $100 fee Friday.

The law requires a permit before soliciting, requesting, promoting, advertising or sponsoring a contribution for a charitable purpose. Many groups, including religious organizations, schools, political parties and volunteer fire departments, are exempt.

The letter was sent to Stewart's family after a couple of residents asked if the family was registered with the state, Gunderson said.

"Our standard operation procedure is when we become aware of solicitations being made, we send out a notice," Gunderson said, adding some organizations fail to show where funds are going, and a permit will reveal that.

On its website, the family describes the shootout as a "tragic misunderstanding" and had asked for help in raising $70,000 to mount a legal defense. In addition to capital murder, Matthew Stewart faces a marijuana cultivation charge and seven counts of attempted aggravated murder.

Matthew Stewart has said he feared for his life the night of the raid because he thought people were breaking into his home to rob and kill him. He said he never heard the drug strike force members identify themselves or announce they were at his home to serve a search warrant.

Ogden police Officer Jared Francom was killed in the ensuing shooting, and five other officers were injured, some critically.

The family wants to hire private investigators or expert witnesses to assist two public defenders who have been appointed to handle Matthew Stewart's case.


Information from: The Salt Lake Tribune,

(Copyright 2012 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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