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Sorensen Pleads Guilty in County Car Investigation

Sorensen Pleads Guilty in County Car Investigation

Posted - Aug. 26, 2004 at 4:51 p.m.



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John Daley ReportingA guilty plea today from a former top Salt Lake County official embroiled in the so-called 'guzzler gate' scandal. The former auditor will likely avoid jail time after entering a plea deal with prosecutors.

Since being caught red-handed stealing fuel from his employer--former Salt Lake County Auditor has expressed regret. And today he fully accepted responsibility, pleading guilty to a third degree felony.

We were expecting Craig Sorensen to appear in court this afternoon for a roll call hearing. Instead, he and his attorney were there this morning entering a guilty plea and agreeing to pay back more than $8,000 to Salt Lake County.

The personal use of county-owned vehicles and county gas credit cards erupted into a full-blown scandal when Salt Lake Tribune reporter Thomas Burr began digging into documents recording the fuel charges of Salt Lake County executives.

That revealed a series of serious irregularities involving the personal use of county-owned SUVs that led to three top county executives resigning. Some number crunching revealed then County Auditor Craig Sorensen was getting just five miles per gallon driving his county-owned Ford Explorer.

Not long after, Sorensen was in court being charged with a second-degree felony for stealing more than 7,000 gallons in gas, worth more than $10,000.

In a court hearing this morning Sorensen pleaded guilty to a lesser charge of attempted misuse of public funds. He also agreed to pay $8,678 restitution. Prosecutors will recommend probation for Sorensen, which would mean no jail time.

Walter Bugden Jr., Attorney for Craig Sorensen: "He's very sorry, he's not tried to make any excuses."

Also, the panel looking into the hiring controversy involving County Mayor Nancy Workman and the South Valley Boys and Girls Club met today. They've been investigating whether Workman misused public funds in hiring a so-called "phantom employee" with county money, who worked directly for her daughter, a manager at the Boys and Girls Club. No word yet on whether there'll be any charges there.

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