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Lawyer, family accused of abetting fugitive

3 helped him flee, received stolen goods, charges say

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An Orem defense attorney, his wife and their son have been indicted by a federal grand jury with multiple felonies for allegedly helping a convicted child molester elude arrest.

According to the 10-count indictment filed Thursday in U.S. District Court, Dean N. Zabriskie, 57; his wife, Lucille Zabriskie; and his son, Slade D. Zabriskie, conspired to harbor and conceal child molester Gerry Curtis Branagan, assist him in fleeing the state to avoid prosecution and to transport, possess and conceal stolen property.

Branagan retained Dean Zabriskie as his attorney after being charged in 4th District Court with multiple counts related to child sexual abuse in October 1993. Both Lucille Zabriskie and Slade Zabriskie worked at the law firm Zabriskie and Associates.

Less than a week before trial, however, Branagan fled the state, and he was tried and convicted in absentia in February 1995. The judge imposed a five-year-to-life prison sentence and issued an arrest warrant. A federal arrest warrant was also issued in June 1996.

Branagan was arrested in April 1999 in San Diego, Calif., and charged there with numerous offenses. He has pleaded guilty to burglary, theft and firearms offenses and is awaiting sentencing, the indictment states.

During the years Branagan was a fugitive, the Zabriskies repeatedly dealt with Branagan, who acted under various aliases, and received "automobiles, gifts, money and stolen property" from Branagan, the indictment states.

Among the most "overt" acts by the defendants, Dean Zabriskie "advised (Branagan) to leave the country" after he was convicted in Utah, the indictment states. Dean and Lucille Zabriskie also traveled to California and Nevada to meet with Branagan on several occasions.

At three different times in 1998 and early 1999, Branagan, using the alias Ron Court, sent the defendants almost $155,000, which was deposited in Zabriskie's account, the indictment states.

Slade Zabriskie "obtained a birth certificate in the name of Ronald Bhoc, an alias subsequently used by" Branagan while being a fugitive, the indictment states. On one occasion, Slade Zabriskie rented a yacht owned by Branagan in Laguna Nigel, Calif. Later, Dean Zabriskie brokered the sale of the yacht for about $71,000, which was later deposited in Dean Zabriskie's account.

Twice Dean and Lucille Zabriskie travelled to California to transport property and $60,000 in cash from two condominiums leased by Branagan to Utah, the indictment states. On April 24, 1999, the Zabriskies "removed stolen property and cash transported in the rental truck from California and placed the stolen property, including porcelain, paintings, silver, jewelry and firearms in their home." Ten rifles and handguns of varying caliber are described in the indictment.

The Utah County Major Crimes Task Force arrested Dean Zabriskie May 1, 1999, after officers found thousands of dollars of allegedly stolen items in his Provo home, including firearms, a large amount of jewelry, paintings and art work, and $60,000 in cash.

Dean Zabriskie's attorney, Ron Yengich, was not available for comment Friday.

E-MAIL: hans@desnews.com