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DEBTS CALLED MUTUALLY INCURRED

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Felix Urioste may not have taken financial advantage of his husband during their four-year "marriage" as prosecutors claim, according to documents released this week by Urioste's attorney.

Debts the two accumulated during their marriage were mutually decided upon, attorney Marlin Criddle says in a 25-page analysis of four years of their financial transactions.Urioste is serving a year in jail after pleading guilty in July to communications fraud, a third-degree felony.

Criddle and Michelle Tack, attorney for Urioste's husband, Bruce Jensen, are negotiating restitution and a financial settlement, a condition of getting the marriage between the two men annulled.

Urioste posed as a woman, Leasa Jensen, during the four-year marriage that broke up in April 1995 when he told Jensen he was dying of cancer and had to go to New York for medical treatment.

Urioste was arrested in Las Vegas, exposed as a man and returned to Utah for prosecution. Jensen maintains he never knew his wife was a man until police informed him.

Prosecutors have accused Urioste of taking advantage of Jensen financially, running up between $30,000 and $60,000 in credit card debts. But Criddle disputes that, maintaining that the debts and charges were done with Jensen's knowledge and that some of them, such as out-of-state trips to Western Athletic Conference events and shopping sprees, were enjoyed by both.

The two accumulated a dozen credit cards after the December 1991 marriage, eventually running up debts of more than $57,000. In addition to using the cards for purchases and making cash withdrawals, they used new cards to pay off minimum balances due on existing cards.

Urioste acknowledges signing Jensen's name on some of the card applications, according to Criddle, but maintains Jensen was aware of what he was doing and approved it.

And Jensen, according to Criddle, used his checking account to make payments on the cards.

"Although engaging in these types of transactions is not a prudent way of handling one's finances, there was no fraud involved in this activity," according to Criddle's analysis.

Criddle does show in his analysis there is still a little over $4,000 unaccounted for.

"No large amounts of debt were incurred at any one point in the relationship," according to Criddle. "There was no attempt to purchase expensive items early on in the relationship and then leave the relationship," he said.

"The most expensive items purchased for Leasa's (Urioste's) sole benefit were wigs (three, ranging from $1,100 to $1,500 each) and a $2,000 cash advance for plastic surgery. Bruce was aware of these expenditures. There was no attempt to hide these transactions from him," Criddle said.

Criddle said Jensen examined all the credit card bills that came in, wrote checks to pay them, charted the cards they had and their level of debt, and in July 1994 had a credit report drawn up.

Tack replied the credit report and a January confrontation about their accumulating debt may have been Urioste's signal that the relationship was souring and it was time to clear out.

Urioste was careful to have Jensen make the payments, Tack said, which credit card companies take as acknowledging responsibility for the debt, even on the cards that were solely in Leasa Jensen's name.

"It's a very confusing and somewhat unbelievable picture," Tack said. "Bruce has told me that, yes, he made the payments but he was the only one in the household working. Felix was very manipulative and, incredibly enough, could explain all this away when Bruce asked about it.

"Leasa Jensen was supposed to be dying of cancer and couldn't work," Tack said. "Bruce has said over and over he didn't know the amount of debt and the number of cards. He thought the cards were being paid off and couldn't understand how they kept growing.

"That's probably why he eventually asked for a credit report. I can only speculate, but confronting Felix with that credit report may have been the beginning of the end, when Felix decided to run," Tack said.

Although Urioste has agreed to pay restitution, it's all but meaningless, Tack said.

He's in jail, he has no job, has no assets, and the credit card companies are leaning on Jensen to pay the debts, she said.

Money Urioste got for selling his story to tabloid TV shows went to the state's victim restitution fund, not to Jensen, and should be applied against the debt, Tack said.

"Bruce's life is still ruined. He's got a new job and he's working, trying to make a fresh start, but he can't even get an apartment with his credit problems," Tack said.

A request for Jensen to comment on Criddle's analysis was relayed to Jensen through his attorney, but he did not reply.