Former Sunset mayor Norm Sant has been charged with falsifying government records for allegedly ordering documents altered to allow a former police chief to collect retirement.
The misdemeanor count was filed Tuesday in 2nd Circuit Court following an eight-month investigation into the city's decision to rehire former police chief Bruce Gunderson in 1991.Gunderson had resigned earlier that year after accusations of sexual and racial discrimination by a city secretary.
The former chief was rehired part-time at minimum wage to serve warrants for the Sunset justice court. However, the charges allege Sant "caused records to be sent in to the Utah State Retirement Board showing the former chief of police was working full-time and earning the same amount as when he was the chief."
Deputy Davis County Attorney Bill McGuire said the investigation involved city records dated between September 1991 and October 1993.
Sant, who lost his re-election bid in November, said Gunderson was rehired as part of a severance agreement. The former chief, who is in his 50s, was just 32 months shy of the 20 years necessary to collect a portion of his law enforcement retirement before he turned 60.
"In essence, he was just trying to be a nice guy to Gunderson," said McGuire.
Sant denied wrongdoing, pointing out that he was the one who took the action that resulted in Gunderson losing his job.
"We were not friends. Absolutely not," Sant said. "He worked 18 to 20 years of faithful work for the city . . . I just felt he was deserving of retirement."
He said he unsuccessfully tried to find Gunderson work at other law enforcement agencies.
"But every time I tried to do it, the county attorney would come in and kibosh it," he said.
Telephone calls to Gunderson's home went unanswered Thursday.
Sant said every action that was taken was on the advice of the city's insurance company. "I was told that was perfectly proper," he said.
McGuire said the forms were filled out, at Sant's direction, by then-treasurer Ora Clayton, who is now the Sunset city recorder. "I think there was some uneasiness by the treasurer to what was going on," he said.
Clayton said she had concerns "whether the reporting was being done right."
She said she approached a member of the City Council about her concerns and was told it would be taken care of. She declined to identify the council member.
Sant said the council was aware of the circumstances around Gunderson's rehiring.
Mayor Carol Bellmon, a former council member who defeated Sant, would not comment on the case. She decided not to renew Gunderson's contract with the city after taking office this year.