In February of this year, the last of ten felony charges against former Provo council member Steven Turley was dismissed. Previously, we wrote about the dismissal of three counts of communications fraud in Mr. Turley’s case in 2013. Through the entire judicial process Mr. Turley has always maintained his innocence, claiming, “I did nothing wrong. I went about regular business.” According to Turley, the charges against him were motivated by “political enemies,” and an overzealous Utah County Attorney’s Office. “They tried to create victims,” he said. “As we go through this list of alleged victims, they have voluntarily provided statements, such as, ‘We were never defrauded.'”
In 2011, around the same time Turley was charged criminally, Provo city mayor released a separate civil ethics investigation report, which found that Turley had violated the Municipal Officers’ and Employees’ Ethics Act, and as a result he should be dismissed from the council. The report’s author, retired 4th District Judge Anthony Schofield, admitted in his report that he was under time constraints and that he could only find five instances where he found Turley violated the ethics code. Even still, Schofield’s investigation found that Turley failed to disclose ownership in property that the council was taking action on. Schofield also reported that Turley also failed to disclose his interest in swapping U.S. Forest Service land for property in Rock Canyon. Turley was “disappointed” by Schofield’s report and said that he believed Schofield was not given enough time to look into the accusations or Turley’s response.
Even in light of Schofield’s report and the laundry list of charges against him, Turley pressed on, eventually winning dismissal of all charges against him. However, he has paid a heavy price in his fight to vindicate his himself. Provo mayor John Curtis, who once spearheaded the movement calling for Turley’s resignation, has said that the former councilman has paid a heavy price and deserves a fresh start. “For a lot of people, they’re happy to have this over. I’m very pleased for Steve. I’m very pleased for his family.” When asked if he might ever return to politics, Turley said he would continue “to serve the community,” but it might be by taking his kids for a walk, and not through politics. “Quite frankly, it has devastated our family,” and “it’s a shame that we had to go through that.”
Mr. Turley’s case provides a cautionary tale for politicians engaging in real estate transactions or other business dealings. Ultimately Mr. Turley’s conduct even if not illegal or unethical drew the ire of his fellow politicians and result in the demise of his political career. It was only after approximately four years in the judicial system that Mr. Turley has been able to vindicate himself, even though the time has taken its toll on Mr. Turley and his family.