SALT LAKE CITY — The owner of a northern Utah funeral home admitted Monday to arranging to meet a boy for a sexual encounter and trying to post bail using a bad check.
But just before entering guilty pleas to seven felonies, Lonnie Kent Nyman signaled he wasn't ready to take responsibility.
Nyman, 45, of Millville, Cache County, asked the judge how soon a trial could begin. He shook his head while his attorney, Greg Law, reviewed the criminal behavior that he would admit to, including how Nyman sent an explicit image of his own genitals to the child, deleted evidence and encouraged the boy to lie to investigators.
"Is that what occurred?" 3rd District Judge Vernice Trease asked Nyman.
"Not in those exact words, but yes," Nyman responded.
"I can't take a guilty plea from someone who says 'I'm not guilty of the charge,'" Trease said. "Before you plead guilty, I understand it's a difficult thing to do, but you must be sure 100 percent this is in your best interest, that this is what you want to do," Trease said. She offered to give Nyman more time to think. She said she didn't think he was certain.
But Nyman insisted.
"I'm fine, I say yes. Let's proceed with how it is," he said.
Nyman pleaded guilty to five charges related to his interactions with the teen, including one count each of dealing in materials harmful to a minor, witness tampering and obstruction of justice, third-degree felonies; and two counts of enticing a minor, a class A misdemeanor.
In November, he agreed to stop working at Nyman Funeral Home until the charges are resolved.
Prosecutors say Nyman arranged to perform a sex act with a boy in March using the app Grindr, but when they met the boy "became uncomfortable with Nyman's behavior and left before engaging in any sexual conduct," court documents say.
His wife discovered explicit photos on his iPad in April 2018, according to prosecutors. After that, Nyman called the minor and told him if he were questioned, he should lie and say "all we did was visit," charges state.
In exchange for his guilty pleas, prosecutors asked the judge to dismiss three counts of sexual exploitation of a minor, a second-degree felony, plus three more counts of dealing materials harmful to a minor.
A judge granted prosecutor's request to move the case from Logan to Salt Lake City in January, court records show, but the reasons for the change have not been made public.
"There were just conflicts of interest up there," Assistant Attorney General Ryan Holtan said outside the courtroom Monday. He would not say how old the teen was at the time Nyman arranged to meet him.
Nyman was arrested Oct. 30 on a $100,000 warrant and booked into the Cache County Jail.
He was originally charged with using two bad checks to get out of jail following his arrest, writing them for two separate credit cards under “Nyman Holdings LLC.," each for $7,000, according to a police affidavit. But there wasn't sufficient funds in Nyman's account to cover either check, the report states.
On Monday, he also pleaded guilty to one count of issuing a bad check and one count of a pattern of unlawful activity, both second-degree felonies. In exchange, four other charges related to the checks were dismissed.
Sentencing is Aug. 12.