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HEBER CITY — A Wasatch County man who was once a candidate for Congress and an aide to the former governor of Missouri has pleaded no contest to two misdemeanors in a case filed under Utah's commercial terrorism law.
Scott Jay Eckersley was initially charged in 4th District Court with four counts of commercial obstruction, a second-degree felony. Court records show two of the counts were reduced to class A misdemeanors on Aug. 26 and two others were dismissed in exchange for Eckersley's plea.
In court records filed as part of the plea, Eckersley said he would not contest the state's evidence that he removed tourism brochures from the lobby of a building at Zermatt Resort & Spa in Midway more than once and threw them away.
Eckersley has his own business supplying hotels and other businesses with free tourism brochures, according to Wasatch County Sheriff's Lt. Jeff Winterton. Eckersley "totally cleaned out" his competitor's display of free tourism brochures at Zermatt and damaged one of the brochure racks to the point where it could not be repaired, Winterton said.
Wasatch County prosecutor Case Wade said additional information obtained after Eckersley was arrested and charged in June showed Eckersley owns a condo at Zermatt and believed the brochures had been placed in the lobby of his building without authorization from the homeowners association.
Wade said there are three HOAs at Zermatt. The one in question had authorized the placement of the brochures in the building it manages, the prosecutor said, adding that Eckersley had been allowed to place his own brochures in a building controlled by one of the other HOAs.
Wade, who did not screen the case against Eckersley for formal charges, said felony commercial obstruction charges were warranted, given the facts prosecutors had at the time. When presented with the new information, Wade said, it was appropriate to reduce the charges to misdemeanors.
Eckersley, 38, has been in the public eye before, according to media reports and court records.
In September 2007, then-Missouri Gov. Matt Blunt fired Eckersley from his position as Blunt's deputy chief 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.
Under the terms of his deal with Wasatch County prosecutors, Eckersley's pleas will be held in abeyance for 18 months. The charges will be dismissed at the end of that term if Eckersley pays $750 in court costs, completes classes in anger management and "thinking errors," has no new criminal violations and pays restitution to the company that produces the brochures he destroyed.