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Utah State Parks manager fired, under investigation for fraud, warrant states

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SALT LAKE CITY — A recently fired manager from the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation is under investigation by the state for fraudulently contracting his own private company for projects that the state paid for, but in some cases the work was never done, according to court records.

As of Tuesday, Daniel Wayne Clark, 59, of Kaysville, had not been charged or arrested.

But according to a search warrant affidavit filed by a special agent with the Utah Attorney General’s Office, Clark is under investigation for engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity, communications fraud and theft by deception.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office declined to comment for this story Tuesday. Clark did not return a message from the Deseret News.

On Wednesday, the Utah Department of Natural Resources issued a brief prepared statement saying it could not discuss specifics of the investigation.

“However, when it comes to the allocation of public funds, DNR has a zero-tolerance policy. Our employees are expected to be responsible stewards of all public funds and to demonstrate integrity in how and where they are spent.

“We appreciate the general auditing procedures of the state, and the internal research efforts within the Utah Division of Parks and Recreation that helped identify these purchasing discrepancies. Our findings were immediately turned over to the Attorney General’s Office, and we’re looking forward to a thorough investigation of the matter. We appreciate their efforts,” the statement said. 

In March, Utah State Parks and Recreation conducted an internal audit, according to the warrant. In July, Deputy Director Scott Strong asked to review the audit by checking on a sampling of vendor invoices.

“Scott Strong said as he was reviewing the samples, he noticed one sample stood out for vendor Colt Paving Inc. Scott noticed many of the invoices from Colt Paving Inc. were for just under $5,000, which caused him concern because if a bid is over $5,000 it has to go through a process with different controls. Scott also noticed some of the asphalt repair work was conducted during the winter months, which isn’t typically done,” the warrant states.

An internet search revealed that Clark was the owner of Colt Paving. Clark was also a construction and development manager for Parks and Recreation, the warrant states.

“Being concerned that repair work had not actually been done, Scott Strong said he contacted the park manager for Jordanelle and asked if road repair work had been done at Jordanelle in February 2020. The park manager told him he didn’t recall any repair work being done. Scott Strong contacted the park manager for East Canyon and asked if road repair work had been done at East Canyon in March 2020. The park manager for East Canyon said he didn’t know of any repairs that were done. Scott said that park managers are typically aware of repairs being done on the state parks they oversee,” according to the warrant.

Clark, who has been with the Utah Parks and Recreation Division since 2007, “manages the asphalt repair budget and accepts bids from vendors. Scott Strong said Daniel W. Clark abused his authority by awarding multiple contracts to Colt Paving Inc. without disclosing he was the president of the company. His failure to divulge his relationship with Colt Paving Inc. is a conflict of interest and violates many Utah state policies and rules,” the warrant states.

Strong then did research on Colt Inc. and Colt Paving Inc. and “learned the state of Utah has paid them approximately $1.3 million dollars from the year 2000 through 2020.”

Strong then reviewed invoices from Colt Paving — which he believed Clark was printing in his office — and checks paid to Colt.

“On the back, the check is signed by Daniel W. Clark,” according to the warrant.

The invoice from Colt also had Clark’s personal cellphone number on it, the warrant states.

On July 16, Strong and State Parks Director Jeff Rasmussen interviewed Clark.

“He said Daniel denied being involved with Colt Paving Inc. but did admit that the phone number of Colt Paving Inc. was his. Scott Strong said Daniel was less than forthright when answering their questions. Scott Strong said Daniel Clark was asked if Colt Paving Inc. had actually completed the work the company had been paid for. Daniel Clark said yes, and said he took pictures of the completed repair work,” according to the warrant.

Clark was fired the next day, the warrant states. Law enforcement then collected two totes that were in Clark’s state issued vehicle. One of the totes contained a checkbook register. Strong looked at the register and “saw the large deposit amounts, which he believed were from the state of Utah, and noticed there were no supply expenses, which he thought was strange for a paving company,” the warrant states.

Investigators seized a laptop, five cellphones, 28 thumb drives, 21 SD cards and several discs from Clark’s office and vehicle, according to the warrant, all of which belonged to the state. The attorney general’s office issued the warrant to search those items for evidence of fraud.