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MIDWAY, Wasatch County — A Midway businessman is facing charges under Utah's commercial terrorism statute after investigators say he took scores of free tourism brochures out of stands owned by a competitor and replaced them with his own brochures.
Scott Jay Eckersley is charged in 4th District Court with four counts of commercial obstruction, a second-degree felony. Wasatch County prosecutor Mckay King said the charges are appropriate, based on the allegations against Eckersley.
Over the past year, Eckersley went to the Zermatt Resort & Spa in Midway four times and "totally cleaned out" a competitor's display of free tourism brochures, according to Wasatch County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Winterton.
"A whole rack — every brochure that was in the display at the time would be missing," Winterton said, noting that Eckersley would apparently replace the discarded brochures with his own tourism pamphlets.
"On the last occasion, it's my understanding that the whole rack was missing," Winterton said. "It was later discovered discarded in an area Dumpster and it was damaged beyond repair."
Surveillance video helped investigators identify Eckersley and they obtained a warrant for his arrest, Winterton said. He was booked into the Wasatch County Jail, declined to talk to detectives and was released after posting bail, the lieutenant said.
Eckersley, 38, has been in the public eye before, according to media reports and court records.
A whole rack — every brochure that was in the display at the time would be missing.
–Wasatch County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Winterton
In September 2007, then-Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt fired Eckersley from his position as Blunt's deputy counsel, according to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch. Eckersley responded by suing Blunt and four of his aides, alleging defamation and wrongful termination.
"This is my whole life. This is everything. It doesn't just affect one person. It affects your whole family," Eckersley told the Post-Dispatch in a December 2008 article. "I can't even read some of these things when they come out, I get so worked up about it."
Eckersley claimed in court records that he was fired and subsequently persecuted for warning his superiors that deleting their emails might constitute a violation of Missouri's open records laws. In May 2009, he settled the lawsuit for $500,000, according to media reports.
After the settlement, Eckersley launched a campaign for the U.S. House in 2010, seeking to win in Missouri's 7th Congressional District. Eckersley, who still has an active Missouri law license, lost by a healthy margin, election results show.
Utah court records list a Midway address for Eckersley. A woman who answered the door at that address Tuesday said Eckersley was not available. She declined to answer any questions about the case.
A message left after business hours for defense attorney Jarom Bangerter, who filed court papers Tuesday afternoon to enter a not-guilty plea on Eckersley's behalf, was not immediately returned.