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Deputy director of state motor vehicle division faces criminal charges

SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General's Office on Monday charged the No. 2 man in the state's Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division with illegally using his position to get a big discount on a vehicle he purchased.

Curtis Stoddard, 47, the deputy director of the division, was charged in 3rd District Court Monday with improper use of employee's position, a second-degree felony, and illegally accepting a gift or compensation, a second-degree felony.

Stoddard was arrested at his office Monday, according to Motor Vehicle Enforcement Division spokesman Charlie Roberts. He has since been placed on administrative leave.

In 2012, Stoddard wanted to purchase a demonstration vehicle from Ken Garff Ford in American Fork, according to charging documents. The car he wanted wasn't available, so an employee ordered a new car that met Stoddard's specifications. That SUV was then driven around primarily by a Ken Garff employee "for the sole purpose of adding mileage to make it used," the charges state.

"The vehicle was never actually used as a demo," investigators wrote.

The dealership can only sell a car as "used" if it has more than 7,500 miles, according to prosecutors. Stoddard purchased the four-door, four-wheel drive Explorer XLT with 5,878 miles for about $28,500 in September of 2012, the charges state.

"The vehicle was listed as used although the vehicle, if used at all, only appears to have been used to facilitate Stoddard's purchase of it, according to the charging documents.

The list price for Stoddard's Explorer was nearly $36,500, according to investigators.

"It appears the used designation was made in an effort to disguise the fact that the price was significantly lower than it would have been had Stoddard been a traditional purchaser of a new automobile," the charges state.

The Utah Attorney General's Office worked with the FBI as part of the investigation.

Stoddard was previously the division's chief investigator for four years and started his career with the Utah Highway Patrol.

A manager at Ken Garff Ford in American Fork said Monday most of the people who were employed in 2012 no longer work there, but he otherwise declined to comment about the case.


Twitter: DNewsCrimeTeam