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Troubled County Recorder Gary Ott has been defaulting on home loan payments

Troubled County Recorder Gary Ott has been defaulting on home loan payments

(Spenser Heaps, Deseret News)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Embattled Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott hasn't been paying his home equity loan for almost a year, and as a result his Salt Lake home could be sold by the bank in three months.

That's according to a "notice of default" obtained from Ott's own office, the Salt Lake County Recorder's Office, on Wednesday — news that shocked Ott's family members and amplified their concerns about his well-being.

The "question of the hour," Ott's brother, Marty Ott, said Wednesday, is where has Ott's paycheck been going over the last 11 months?

"That's a big question," he said, adding that the default notice "absolutely" amplifies his concerns for his brother.

The notice says Ott has missed monthly payments on a $50,000 home equity loan since July 2016, and that the bank will sell the property if the payments aren't made within three months of the notice, which was posted on Tuesday.

"All delinquent payments, late charges, foreclosure costs, and property taxes and assessments, if any, must be paid in full within three months of the recording of this notice to reinstate the loan," the notice states.

On Wednesday, the Deseret News found a "water service termination notice" hanging on the front door of Ott's Salt Lake home, stating the water meter was shut off on Monday because of an outstanding bill.

Ott earns nearly $190,000 annually in salary and benefits.

The loan default and water shut-off notices are the latest red flags regarding Ott's health and well-being and whether the elected recorder is actually living in the district he represents.

The Deseret News was investigating claims that Ott has been living in Weber County with Karmen Sanone — Ott's office aide — when a reporter found him outside Sanone's house last month. In a 45-minute conversation, Ott could not answer questions coherently.

If Ott's house is sold, the recorder would no longer own property in the district he was elected to represent.

State Elections Director Mark Thomas said Ott wouldn't "automatically" lose his elected seat because under state law, a county official would only lose residency if he or she established a new "primary" residence outside of his or her district.

But, Thomas said, election officials would review the situation if a complaint were to be filed, expressing doubts about an officials' residency status.

Previously, when asked if Ott has been living in Weber County with her, Sanone said he still "maintains a residence" in Salt Lake City and that he only comes to North Ogden to visit occasionally.

When asked again on Wednesday, Sanone said Ott stays with her on the "weekends." When pressed on why Ott wasn't at his house on Wednesday, Sanone said he decided to come up to her house this week because he "didn't want people at his house and knocking on the door" because of the media coverage over the past week.

Worries of Ott’s living situation, his relationship with Sanone, and concerns of his health have lingered for almost a year and a half, since the Deseret News first published its February 2016 investigation into Ott.

Since last fall, Weber County and North Ogden officials have conducted at least two welfare checks on Ott at or near Sanone's home.

Sanone told a Weber County deputy in September that Ott has dementia. However, when asked about the incident this week, Sanone said that because she was "busy at the time" she had told officers "there could be some form of early dementia rather than trying to explain Gary had a medical condition that often makes it hard for Gary to articulate what he wants to say."

Attempts to reach Ott by phone and email on Wednesday were unsuccessful, but Sanone — who also calls herself Ott's "longtime friend" — said Wednesday the loan default matter would be sorted out this week.

"Actually, Gary has scheduled a meeting tomorrow to take care of it," she said. "This came as a surprise to him. Trying to track it down, it appears there's some problems with an account number. So he scheduled a meeting to meet with those involved and straighten it out tomorrow."

Sanone also said that the water at Ott's home has since been turned back on and the bill paid.

When asked why Sanone was involved in Ott's finances, she said that when Ott "hurt his hand" on her property when working on some farm equipment, "he asked me to help write his checks."

Sanone has been identified as Ott's girlfriend or fiancee by multiple county employees and court documents. Sanone — along with Gary Ott's chief deputy, Julie Dole — have been accused of "manipulating" or "taking advantage of" Ott. Both Sanone and Dole have denied those accusations.

Sanone said Wednesday that those accusations have been investigated by Adult Protective Services and "there were no findings of exploitation."

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, however, has told the Deseret News his investigations are still ongoing.

When asked on Wednesday whether he is investigating Ott's finances, Gill said he couldn't "go into details, but we are looking at every aspect."

Marty Ott said he and other family members have been troubled by his brother's situation and they are working hard to advocate for Ott's best interests.

"All of our focus and energy is being directed to one thing: Gary's well-being," Marty Ott said.

In the meantime, he said the lack of answers is frustrating.

"We're puzzled that this investigation has gone on for almost two years and it doesn't appear there's been much progress made," Marty Ott said.


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