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Workman Case Goes to Jury

Workman Case Goes to Jury



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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) -- In closing arguments Wednesday, prosecutors painted former Salt Lake County Mayor Nancy Workman as a nepotistic bureaucrat who used county money to create a "gravy train" helping the nonprofit organization where her daughter was a top officer.

Meanwhile, Workman's defense attorneys argued there was no criminal intent -- only a procedural error in using health department funds to hire an accountant for the Boys and Girls Club. They said the mayor didn't know of the potential conflict, and if anything, she should face civil penalties, not two felony counts of misusing public money.

Third District Court Judge Judith Atherton handed the case off to jurors Wednesday for deliberation. Atherton told attorneys for both sides to stay close, because she wanted a decision Wednesday night. However, she said if jurors deliberated for a while and didn't reach a decision, she would send everyone home. As of late Wednesday night, the jury still had not reached a decision.

Workman is accused of ponying up county money to help her daughter retain a bookkeeper that the Boys and Girls Club couldn't afford to pay -- even though the employee did no work for the county.

Defense attorneys have said Workman provided money for a worthy group that furthers the county's interests by improving the health and welfare of its residents.

In a lengthy closing argument, special prosecutor Mike Martinez told the jury Workman knew she was using public money wrongly.

Martinez also shrugged off defense suggestions that Workman failed to realize the potential conflict because she was a "big picture" leader.

Workman was directly responsible for the employee, and even signed her timesheets certifying she worked the listed amount of hours -- the only employee Workman had that kind of relationship with, according to testimony.

"She'd remember every week when that ran across her desk and she had to sign it," Martinez said.

Defense attorneys said Workman was an honest leader who would never intentionally run afoul of the law.

"That's nuts. Why would she do this kind of thing? She's going to get caught," attorney Jack Morgan said in closing arguments. "If she was trying to hide something, she did a really lousy job of it. I think most of us in this room could come up with a better scenario.

"Is there wrongful conduct? No. Is there conduct that was done in the wrong way? Yes. I don't think anyone disputes that," Morgan continued.

Earlier Wednesday, former Salt Lake County interim Mayor Alan Dayton testified for the defense that if the rules Workman was accused of breaking were regularly enforced, the county would have "a jail full of county commissioners."

Dayton said the county had a long history of donating to nonprofit groups including the Olympic committee, the Days of '47 Festival and the Boys and Girls Club.

"The belief is, and the understanding is, that it's a benefit to county taxpayers as a whole," Dayton said. "It's what our bureaucrats have done for decades and it's what they continue to do."

The state's key witness, Workman's county Chief Administrative Officer David Marshall, testified that the county had at times donated public money to nonprofits, but said they restricted the practice after a 1999 court ruling.

In that decision, the Utah Supreme Court sided with a former Salt Lake County attorney who challenged the county's donations to nonprofits.

The county's own rules allow private donations, but only if it benefits the county directly or there is a contract or public hearing about it.

Marshall also said the county's previous donations did not apply in this case because they, at least in some way, directly benefited the county.

"Under no circumstance did we hire these people ... and then turn them over as if they were the employees of another organization," Marshall said.

Workman's attorneys said the Supreme Court ruling only says the county's donations were "invalid," but it doesn't indicate that violating their own bylaws is a crime.

"They're making up a new crime," attorney Greg Skordas said.

Last Thursday, Marshall testified that Workman told him the nonprofit worker would also do some work for the county as her "eyes and ears" in the community -- but to his knowledge, that never happened.

In returning to the stand Wednesday, he also rebutted testimony for the defense that directly contradicted those claims.

Jeff Wright, a former fraud investigator for the state Attorney General's Office, said Marshall told him he knew the employee would be working at the Boys and Girls Club, but signed off on the arrangement anyway.

Marshall testified Wednesday that was false, saying he "never would have done that."

(Copyright 2005 by The Associated Press. All Rights Re served.)

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