Former sheriff takes plea deal; Cordova to perform community service, pay back nearly $2,200
PRICE, Utah – A former Carbon County Sheriff agreed to a plea deal Friday relating to allegations he used a county-issued vehicle and trailer to move personal belongings and that he used a county-issued gas card improperly.
Former sheriff James Cordova said he wanted to put allegations of misusing public money behind him. As part of the plea and abeyance, he will pay restitution amounting to $2,166.35 plus interest and perform 80 hours of community service within 12 months, according to court documents. The plea related to a third-degree felony charge of misuse of public money, and a misdemeanor charge for having the wrong license plate on a trailer was dismissed.
Cordova was accused of using his county-issued vehicle and a sheriff’s search and rescue trailer to move personal items from his home in Carbon County to his new home in St. George. Prosecutors also claimed Cordova used a county gas card to purchase more than $2,000 in gasoline between December 16, 2013 and April 13 of 2014.
The former sheriff apologized for the incident and stated it was never his intent to violate the law or use his position for personal gain. He said he takes “full responsibility for my poor judgment and I take full responsibility for any sanctions that have been levied against me.”
He also apologized to his former constituents, the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office and the Utah Sheriff’s Association. A full copy of the statement he planned to read in court, provided by his attorneys, is below:
I served the good people of Carbon County for 30 years. 14 years as a Price City Police Officer and 16 years as Sheriff with an impeccable record. I took great pride in my work in law enforcement and regret deeply that this is how I will be remembered. However, I do see the charges that have been filed against me have some merit. In order to avoid further shame and embarrassment upon my family and the office I held, I have chosen to settle this case through a plea agreement. I’ve entered a No-Contest plea to the alleged charges to avoid further embarrassment to myself, my family, and the citizens of Carbon County. This plea will be held in abeyance and give me the opportunity to clear my name after successfully completing a probationary term.
I would like to move forward with my life, out of the political and public arena. Again, I take full responsibility for my poor judgment and I take full responsibility for any sanctions that have been levied against me.
It was never my intent to violate any laws, nor was there ever any malicious intent to use my position for personal gain. I never used the county credit card to fuel my personal vehicle or for any other personal use. It was only used to fuel my county issued vehicle. For the past sixteen years, as the Sheriff of Carbon County, I used my county patrol vehicle, at all times, in order to respond in emergency situations, because as Sheriff, I was on essentially on duty 24/7.
This was obviously bad judgment on my behalf to use this vehicle, and a sheriff’s office trailer, to move personal belongings to my home in St George. In hindsight, I see now that I did benefit from the use of the trailer and county vehicle. I sincerely apologize to the citizens of Carbon County and ask their forgiveness for my lapse in judgment.
I apologize to the Carbon County Sheriff’s Office, the Utah Sheriff’s Association, including all 28 Sheriffs of the State of Utah, and the law enforcement community, for any embarrassment I have caused. It was never my intent to bring shame to this honorable profession.
I would like to thank the people of Carbon County for allowing me to be your Sheriff for 16 years. It was an honor and a privilege. I sincerely ask for privacy on behalf of myself and my family. Please do not attempt to contact me or my family for any further statements. I have no further comment. Thank you.
Sheriff James Cordova (Ret.)