CEDAR CITY – The Iron County Attorney’s Office recently filed felony charges against former Cedar City events coordinator, Byron Linford, for misuse of public money.
Linford, 49, appeared in front of 5th District Judge Keith Barnes last month for the second-degree felony alleging he used city funds for personal use while traveling out of town for business.
“As the Events Coordinator for Cedar City, the Defendant spent time traveling and recruiting events and promoting Cedar City,” the charging documents state. “The Defendant possessed a city credit card for expenses incurred as they related to this employment, and he traveled a substantial amount according to credit card receipts.”
Linford resigned from the city around April 2015 amid questions surrounding his spending habits and controversy over an out-of-town relationship he had with a woman.
According to the six-page charging document, city officials were already looking into purchases Linford had made on the city credit card when they became aware of an article written in the San Diego Union Tribune detailing the alleged relationship between Linford and a 36-year-old woman.
In the article, dated March 25, 2015, the woman relates her and Linford’s “love story” and how they were getting ready to celebrate their one-year anniversary the following month.
Authorities refer to the article in the charging documents stating it is relevant to the case in that it speaks to the “criminal intent” of the defendant at the time he made the alleged purchases.
“Your affiant asserts that the content of the article becomes relevant and important in understanding the criminal intent of the Defendant as he made personal charges on the city credit card, not only for airline tickets and hotel room reservations in Salt Lake City, but also for other hotel rooms in southern California and Nevada,” St. George Police Detective Wyatt Miles stated in his affidavit.
“In pressing the defendant about his relationship with (the woman named in the article), the Defendant stated that he had made some mistakes in his personal life and that he was trying to save his family,” Miles said in his affidavit.
The St. George Police Department, who was brought in by the city as an independent agency, investigated charges reportedly made by Linford over the course of a year between Jan 1, 2014, and Jan. 2, 2015.
During that year, charging documents allege, Linford spent more than $5,000 of city money largely for airline tickets and hotel rooms for him and the woman.
Linford’s attorney, Jack Burns, said the charges are “false” and maintains his client’s innocence.
“Understand a probable cause statement filed by law enforcement is one-sided because it’s just their findings. We don’t believe the charges filed against Byron are accurate,” Burns said. “He has not misused any public funds and the truth will end up coming out as we go through the court process. He did not steal or misuse public funds.”
The county attorney, Scott Garrett, previously prepared a warrant for Linford’s arrest; however, Burns said it would not be necessary in this case.
“An arrest is made to set bail in order to guarantee a defendant will appear in court,” Burns said. “Byron has lived in the area for 50 years. He has family here, he has a home here. There is absolutely no risk of flight.”
Burns also pointed out his client had scheduled a court appearance on his own.
“We found out the charges had been filed on a Friday afternoon. That Monday Byron contacted the court and voluntarily scheduled a court hearing,” Burns said. “He went in front of the judge before the judge even had an opportunity to see the charges.”
A preliminary hearing to determine whether Linford’s charges will move forward is scheduled for next month.
UPDATE: The name of the woman involved has been removed from this report as a potential victim. It came to light in subsequent court proceedings that Linford had misrepresented his marital status by presenting her with a forged divorce decree.
Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2016, all rights reserved.