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Jury selection starts Feb. 1 for Workman

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Former Salt Lake County Mayor Nancy Workman plans to go ahead with her jury trial set for next week.

Workman is accused of misusing taxpayer funds to help a nonprofit agency where her daughter worked. She appeared before 3rd District Judge Judith Atherton at a pretrial conference Monday in which lawyers discussed such technicalities as jury selection and scheduling.

Workman, 64, is facing two second-degree felony counts of misusing public monies. If convicted she faces a potential sentence of up to 30 years in prison.

The charges stem from allegations that Workman diverted about $17,000 from the county Health Department to the South Valley Boys and Girls Club where her daughter, Aisza Wilde, worked as development director. The money was used for a complicated financial arrangement that paid two different bookkeepers at the club.

Workman has maintained her actions were not criminal and were not to help her daughter but to assist the children the agency serves.

Jack Morgan, one of Workman's lawyers, later said he could not comment on whether there have been any plea-bargain talks with prosecutors.

"There are a million things that can happen between the final pretrial conference and the start of a jury trial, but I see no hurdles in front of us," Morgan said.

As for his client, "Nancy's doing fine," Morgan said. "Nancy's just an upbeat person. I think you guys have seen her all through this thing — she's kept a smile on her face and nothing's changed."

Prosecutor Michael Martinez said a jury pool of about 60 people will fill out a questionnaire Friday. Jury selection will begin Feb. 1, and opening statements are expected to be heard Feb. 2.

Salt Lake County District Attorney David Yocom chose Martinez as special deputy district attorney after Workman claimed the charges against her were politically motivated. Yocom is a Democrat; Workman a Republican.

"Both sides are ready to go," Martinez said. "The district attorney's office has always felt it had a good case, I've always thought we've had a good case."

E-mail: lindat@desnews.com