Utahn charged with planting explosive under car pleads not guilty

A Salt Lake man pleaded not guilty Monday to planting an explosive device underneath a car parked in a Sandy driveway. The device was found after the victim told police he had received text messages threatening that "debts will get settled tonight."

A Salt Lake man pleaded not guilty Monday to planting an explosive device underneath a car parked in a Sandy driveway. The device was found after the victim told police he had received text messages threatening that "debts will get settled tonight." (Johanna Kirk, Deseret News)

Save Story
Leer en español

Estimated read time: 4-5 minutes

This archived news story is available only for your personal, non-commercial use. Information in the story may be outdated or superseded by additional information. Reading or replaying the story in its archived form does not constitute a republication of the story.

Editor's note: In January, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals entered an unpublished decision vacating in part the lower court's order with respect to the $18.5 million fine levied against the Hanleys. The appellate court concluded that, although the district court's monetary judgment needed to be vacated because it was not permitted under the section of the statute that was relied upon, the Federal Trade Commission was not foreclosed from seeking entry of a monetary judgment against the Hanleys under a different provision. Current court filings indicate the FTC is requesting that an approximately $11.9 million monetary judgment be entered against the Hanleys, which the Hanleys have opposed.

SANDY — A Salt Lake man pleaded not guilty Monday to planting a homemade explosive device under another man's car.

The same man and his ex-wife were accused of leading a scheme involving numerous companies that took advantage of struggling borrowers in Nevada, according to the Federal Trade Commission, and were fined $18.5 million.

Jonathan Phillip Hanley, 43, is charged in 3rd District Court with recklessness involving an incendiary device, a first-degree felony, and criminal mischief, a class B misdemeanor. He has remained at the Salt Lake County Jail since his arrest in November, but a judge reduced his bail on Monday. Following a preliminary hearing earlier this month, a 3rd District judge said enough evidence had been presented to order Hanley to stand trial on both charges.

On Nov. 1, 2021, a 2-liter bottle filled with a liquid and "multiple aluminum balls" was found underneath a car parked in a driveway at a home in Sandy's east bench near the mouth of Little Cottonwood Canyon, according to charging documents. In addition, four-pronged spikes were found in various locations around the yard.

A bomb squad was called and police confirmed the bottle was an actual explosive and not a fake. Members of the bomb squad "disarmed the bomb and destroyed the bottle," the charges state.

Another resident of the home told police he had received threatening text messages from an unknown number stating, in part, that "debts will get settled tonight," according to the charges.

Using video from nearby home security cameras, detectives observed a car pulling up to the end of the street and a man getting out for several minutes. The car was determined to be registered to Hanley's ex-wife. The intended victim stated he was familiar with the Hanleys and called Jonathan Hanley a "loose cannon," the charges state.

Hanley's ex-wife, who had filed for divorce from Hanley in April of 2020, lived less than two miles away from where the homemade explosive was found, according to a series of search warrant affidavits. A detective kept surveillance on her Sandy home on Nov. 2 and followed the ex-wife as she left the home and drove to a nearby park. There, Jonathan Hanley got into her vehicle with several bags, the charges state.

As the detective followed the vehicle, the ex-wife "sped up and made a sudden turn into a neighborhood. (The detective) followed and saw her vehicle leaving the neighborhood. Jonathan was walking away on foot. (The detective) was able to stop Jonathan and place him into custody without incident," according to the affidavit.

In 2019, Hanley and his wife were heavily penalized in Nevada for allegedly taking advantage of struggling homeowners through a number of mortgage relief companies. An $18.5 million fine was levied against the companies, according to housingwire.com. Many of Hanley's assets were ordered to be liquidated, including a Park City ski chalet, an office building, a Mercedes Benz S550, and a Porsche Carrera, according to Consumer Financial Services Law Monitor.

After separating in 2020, Hanley was charged in 3rd District Court with criminal mischief, a class A misdemeanor, for allegedly carving the word "disease" into his estranged wife's car door. That case was dismissed on Jan. 11 after prosecutors were unable to move forward in the case because their "essential witness" failed to show up for court, according to court records.

Charging documents also note that Hanley committed an aggravated arson offense in another state in 1999.

Also on Monday, a judge changed Hanley's no bail status and ordered him to be held in the Salt Lake County Jail on $50,000 bail. If he is able to post bail, the court ordered Hanley to wear a GPS ankle monitor.

His next court date is scheduled for Feb. 22.

Most recent Utah stories

Related topics

Pat Reavy is a longtime police and courts reporter. He joined the KSL.com team in 2021, after many years of reporting at the Deseret News and KSL NewsRadio before that.


Get informative articles and interesting stories delivered to your inbox weekly. Subscribe to the KSL.com Trending 5.
By subscribing, you acknowledge and agree to KSL.com's Terms of Use and Privacy Policy.

KSL Weather Forecast