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Sister, brother file for legal guardianship of embattled county recorder

SALT LAKE CITY — Family members of embattled Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott are seeking legal permission to make decisions for him, according to court documents that a judge acted on Monday.

An attorney for his brother, Marty Ott, and his sister, Kathy Ott Chamberlain, filed a petition for the "appointment of guardian and conservator of incapacitated adult" in Salt Lake City's 3rd District Court on Friday.

Judge Mark Kouris on Monday signed an order at the family's request, as well as temporary orders related to guardianship and financial decision-making.

But Ott's office aide, who many have identified as Ott's girlfriend, said Monday that she is the county recorder's would-be guardian and financial manager.

Few details were available about the judge's decision. The documents remain sealed, and Chamberlain referred comment to her attorney Mary Corporon.

Corporon, who is also Gary Ott's ex-wife, declined to comment about the case.

"At this point, we don't have anything that ought to be public," Corporon said. "These kinds of cases are private for a reason. They're extremely sensitive."

The document also names Kristine Ott Williams as a petitioner.

Gary Ott has been the target of public scrutiny for a year and a half as questions about his health have surfaced following a series of Deseret News stories. Colleagues say his visits to the office have been much more sporadic in recent months, raising additional concerns about his well-being. Earlier this month he made a series of incoherent statements in a 45-minute interview with the Deseret News.

Karmen Sanone — the aide who describes herself as Ott's "longtime friend" who has also been identified as his girlfriend and fiancee — said Monday that she and Ott were dumbfounded by the family's court filings. Sanone said Ott's family has not been involved in his life for years, and said she believes the court filings are financially motivated.

Sanone said for the first time that she is identified in Ott's living will — which she estimates was created three or four years ago — as his would-be guardian and financial manager if the need arises. The pair was on their way back from a restaurant, Sanone said Monday night, and Ott declined when she asked if he wanted to talk to a reporter.

"I'm just very concerned. Gary's with me. He's shocked. We just finished dinner," she said.

The pair's relationship is part of Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill's monthslong investigation into Ott's situation, as well as allegations that Ott lives outside of Salt Lake County and allegations that Sanone and Ott's chief deputy, Julie Dole, are taking advantage of Ott's situation. Both women have denied those allegations.

"There is no nepotism," Sanone said Monday evening.

Marty Ott could not be reached for comment Monday. Earlier this month, however, he expressed concerns about his brother’s finances. A “notice of default” obtained by Ott’s own Salt Lake County Recorder’s Office indicated that Gary Ott hadn’t been paying his home equity loan for almost a year.

He said the "question of the hour" was where his brother's paycheck been going over the past 11 months. "That's a big question," Marty Ott said, adding that the default notice "absolutely" amplified his concerns for his brother.

Gary Ott earns nearly $190,000 annually in salary and benefits.

Sanone blamed an account number for the lack of payments. She said the loan default matter was a surprise to Ott and would be quickly sorted out.

Marty Ott said he and other family members have been troubled by his brother's situation and they planned to advocate for the man's best interests.

"All of our focus and energy is being directed to one thing: Gary's well-being," Marty Ott said on June 14.

Gill on Monday praised Gary Ott's "lifetime of devoted service" to the county, saying the situation is a tragic one.

"I share the same concerns about Gary and his health and I'm happy to see some family members are stepping up," Gill said, saying he wants the best for Ott.

Issues surrounding Ott have led to a series of recent closed sessions by the Salt Lake County Council, which last week announced plans to use its power of the purse strings to take action against the recorder's office. A discussion of the budget for the recorder's office was set for Tuesday but has been postponed.

That comes after at least two closed meetings with the district attorney to discuss a "personnel matter," according to the council's agenda.

Bound by closed meetings rules, council members have been tight-lipped about the details of those discussions, but the meetings came after Mayor Ben McAdams called for Ott's resignation following the Deseret News' ongoing investigation into Ott's well-being.

Earlier this month, Sanone said Ott, 66, is considering retirement before the end of his current term, which ends in 2020.