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SALT LAKE CITY — Between 20 and 40 cases filed by the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office may be dismissed because of credibility issues surrounding a former Utah Highway Patrol trooper.
But whether the trooper intentionally falsified a DUI report or was just sloppy in his duty was unknown Tuesday.
Neil Green was subpoenaed to appear at a trial as a witness last month but failed to show up, according to District Attorney Sim Gill.
"In investigating his absence, the district attorney’s office became aware that trooper Green resigned from the Utah Highway Patrol," Gill said in a prepared statement. "Upon further investigation, the district attorney’s office learned that trooper Green resigned after the (UHP) was informed of concerns related to his credibility in his work as a peace officer.
"Based upon information provided by the Utah Highway Patrol regarding trooper Green’s credibility, the district attorney’s office has determined that it cannot prosecute cases where trooper Green is the sole and exclusive source of the material evidence in the case," he said.
As many as 40 cases have been put on hold because of Green, according to Gill. The majority of cases were DUI investigations and other traffic-related offenses. Gill said his office will review those cases, and if it's determined that Green was the lone source for evidence, his office will "most likely" be unable to prosecute them.
Late Tuesday afternoon, UHP officials held a news conference to explain what had happened.
Green arrested a man in Davis County on Aug. 23, 2013, for investigation of DUI, drug possession and possession of drug paraphernalia. Green claimed in his arrest report that field sobriety tests were administered.
But on Feb. 27, 2014, prosecutors found that no sobriety tests had been given.
"When you view the dashcam video, there was never any field sobriety tests ever performed," said UHP Sgt. Todd Royce.
When questioned about it, Green told his superiors it must have been a clerical error. Still, the incident raised enough concern with UHP administration that Green was placed on administrative leave on March 3, 2014. An internal investigation was launched on March 26, 2014. But just two days later, before the investigation was completed, Green resigned from the department.
When filling out a DUI report, Royce said troopers typically write a detailed explanation of the sobriety tests they performed.
"He had on his DUI report a full list of field sobriety tests that were never performed," Royce said. "It's not a question of whether he checked the wrong box or not. It's a question of whether he did it deliberately or whether he did it by mistake."
On Sept. 9, 2014, the internal affairs investigation was completed. Royce said there was insufficient evidence to prove Green intentionally falsified the DUI report.
Regardless, Royce said that kind of error raised credibility issues.
"Whether it was just sloppy or dishonest, it still wasn't up to the standard of a trooper," he said.
Gill, however, said his office just became aware of the problem with Green a couple of weeks ago. Now, he is asking anyone who had interaction with Green while he was a trooper to contact the district attorney's office.
Royce said the Utah Highway Patrol, which has had to deal with credibility allegations in recent years concerning other troopers, most notably former trooper of the year Lisa Steed, was not trying to hide anything. He said the UHP was unaware that the Davis and Salt Lake County attorney's offices had not shared information about Green.
"There wasn't any intention to hide anything," Royce said.
The UHP is working on a plan with prosecutors to better inform them when a trooper's credibility becomes an issue.
Royce said his office is also continuously reminding new recruits that "their career in law enforcement depends on them being credible."
"This is a hard situation. This is tough. Because whenever we find a trooper that isn't credible, it's extremely troubling to us. Because law enforcement and police officers work on credibility," he said. "This is a case in which a trooper was not forthcoming and was not honest in his testimony."
As of Tuesday, Green was not facing any criminal charges in regard to his false report.
Contributing: Andrew Adams