SALT LAKE CITY — An ongoing court case against a Millard County sheriff's deputy accused of retaliating against a witness — one of his own family members — has been moved to neighboring Juab County.
The legal proceedings against Clete Carter, 43, of Fillmore, have been going on since February in Millard County. But the case stems from a series of events that started two years ago as a family dispute.
Carter's attorney, Lindsay Jarvis, said the charge — retaliation against a witness, a third-degree felony — holds no merit whatsoever.
“The facts in this case represent a desperate and pathetic attempt by estranged family members, who are currently litigating their father’s estate in civil court, to ruin the career of a veteran police officer in retaliation of that dispute," Jarvis said Monday. "Detective Carter denies all allegations, and intends to vigorously fight the remaining charge at trial.”
Jarvis noted that before charges were filed, the sheriff's office conducted an internal affairs investigation and found no evidence of wrongdoing. But once criminal charges were filed in February, they were forced to place Carter on paid administrative leave, which he has been on ever since.
The drawn-out case started in 2017, right after the funeral of Carter's father, former longtime Juab County Sheriff David Carter.
Some family members claim Clete Carter stole property — namely a saddle stand that belonged to his father and was used as part of a display during his funeral — refused to return it, and told family members they couldn't do anything about it because of his law enforcement status, according to charging documents.
The dispute has resulted in family members split into two sides, pitted against each other. It also involves some of David Carter's horses.
Clete Carter's brother, Clay Carter, was charged in 2017 by the Juab County Attorney's Office with several counts of forgery, obstruction of justice and receiving stolen property. He is accused of taking horse transfer papers with his deceased father's signature on them, and signing ownership of three of his horses to himself. The next scheduled hearing in that case is Aug. 20.
Some family members claim Clete Carter has been telling his mother to stop pressing charges against Clay Carter and has been derogatory in his comments to her, according to charging documents. Other family members claim Clete Carter was stalking them.
The case involving Clete Carter was investigated by the Wasatch County Sheriff's Office.
On Feb. 11, Clete Carter was charged in Millard County's 4th District Court with tampering with a witness and retaliation against a witness, third-degree felonies, plus theft and making a threat of violence, class B misdemeanors.
During his preliminary hearing in June, the charges of theft and making a violent threat were dismissed. It was during the preliminary hearing that prosecutors requested that an additional charge of tampering with a witness be added to the charges, but that request was denied, according to court records.
On the charge of tampering with a witness, the judge had not made a ruling as of Monday whether to order him to stand trial for it. The only charge bound over for trial as of Monday was retaliation against a witness.
That retaliation charge stems from an alleged incident in which another one of Clete Carter's brothers, a law enforcer at the time, got into an argument with his nephew. The nephew's father filed a complaint. When Clete Carter heard about it, he called his sister — the nephew's mother — and allegedly threatened her and her husband while using derogatory terms, the charges state.
On July 30, the case was transferred from Millard County to Juab County. An arraignment is scheduled for Aug, 13.
The Millard County Sheriff's Office declined to comment on the case Monday.