Former Bluffdale fire chief pleads guilty to misusing public money

John Roberts is the former Bluffdale fire chief and a former mayoral candidate. He pleaded guilty to misusing public money.

John Roberts is the former Bluffdale fire chief and a former mayoral candidate. He pleaded guilty to misusing public money. (Facebook)


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BLUFFDALE — A former Bluffdale fire chief and mayoral candidate has pleaded guilty to misusing public money.

John Roberts, 70, entered the plea Tuesday in 3rd District Court to one third-degree felony count. Five other misdemeanor counts were dismissed.

Roberts served as Bluffdale's fire chief until 2020, when several firefighters submitted complaints against him. Prosecutors said Roberts falsified staffing records from March 2018 to March 2020, paying firefighters for work they did not actually perform.

Those altered records ended up costing Bluffdale taxpayers more than $128,000 in overpayments, prosecutors said.

Roberts' defense attorney, Greg Skordas, told KSL his client agreed to a plea in abeyance and must pay $10,000 in restitution to the city of Bluffdale, after which the plea and case will be wiped from his record.

After leaving the Bluffdale Fire Department, Roberts unsuccessfully ran for mayor in 2021, losing the race to current Mayor Natalie Hall.

Roberts did not immediately have a comment Tuesday about his guilty plea, his attorney said.

In a 2021 email interview with KSL.com, Roberts denied any wrongdoing and contended the charges came down to politics. He pointed to difficulty in staffing the fire station during holidays. He signed a separation agreement with the city and received a severance package after whistleblower complaints were made to the city in early 2020.

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Daniel Woodruff
Daniel Woodruff is a reporter/anchor with deep experience covering Utah news. He is a native of Provo and a graduate of Brigham Young University. Daniel has also worked as a journalist in Indiana and Wisconsin.

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