CEDAR HILLS, Utah County — A couple who police say owes more than $1 million in taxes and has been living illegally in their former Cedar Hills home for eight months was arrested after an armed standoff Thursday night.
Paul Kenneth Cromar was arrested in Pleasant Grove, and his wife, Barbara Cromar, was arrested at the house, 9870 N. Meadow Drive, where police say they’d been illegally living after supporters of the couple — armed with rifles and handguns — engaged in a standoff there with police, according to Utah County Sheriff’s Sgt. Spencer Cannon.
“Obviously that causes us a great deal of concern because there had been statements made by Mr. Cromar and others that he was not going to ever leave the home again,” Cannon said.
The home itself had also been prepared with “sandbags and weapons in preparation to defeat the eviction order,” according to the sheriff’s office.
However, the confrontation ended peacefully without shots being fired.
Paul and Barbara Cromar were booked into Utah County Jail for investigation of burglary of a dwelling and unlawful appropriation. Tyson Neil Holyoak, 36, was booked for investigation of criminal trespass and interference with arresting officer after he attempted to sneak into the Cromars’ former home, according to the sheriff’s office.
Paul Cromar was charged Friday in 4th District Court with burglary, a second-degree felony, and wrongful appropriation, a third-degree felony.
Holyoak allegedly told deputies that someone inside the home asked him to come, and knowing that the building was restricted, he parked his car two blocks away, went through a neighbor’s yard and climbed a fence into the yard of the Cromars’ former home, where he was then caught.
“No threats were made,” Cannon said. “Obviously, there was some disagreement, but when orders were given then, ultimately most of the people complied.”
Cromar disputes the seizure and sale of his home, claiming he did not receive the constitutional right of due process, according to Cannon. The Cromars have filed several motions in federal court as well as an appeal to the U.S. 10th Circuit Court of Appeals, but all their attempts have been denied, he said.
“I don’t even like to say ‘moved in,’ although that’s what he did,” Cannon said. “They illegally entered the home, and they were squatting, essentially. It was not their home to be had, and there can be disagreement about it. But when you have disagreements about things, you can’t always just take unilateral action that is in your favor only.”
Cannon said police have been aware of the situation for several weeks, if not longer, and Thursday’s standoff stemmed from an eviction order issued by a 4th District Court judge.
The judge ordered the family to be out by Sept. 5. “Rather than moving out of the home when ordered ... Cromar invited several members from an armed militia come to his house to protect him,” a police affidavit states. “Cromar has made comments online about protecting his property and scaring away law enforcement. He has also aligned himself with radical groups and people and invited them to join him in defending his property.”
Paul Cromar’s home was seized by the government last year and was eventually sold after he failed to file federal income tax returns from 1999 through 2005, according to Cannon, who said his unpaid taxes total more than $1 million.
The Cromars had been evicted by federal marshals months ago, but shortly after the home was sold, the Cromars moved back in as new owners have tried to evict them, a police affidavit states.
A sign on the property claims the property belongs to Paul Cromar’s because of a land patent. Another sign says ‘No trespassing.”
In a June Facebook post, Paul Cromar said he had “been back” at the house since April 23. “It is and has, and will always remain our house — until we say otherwise — despite attempted FRAUD and SWINDLE in dishonor by the courts who voided their own authority,” according to the police affidavit.
He also posted a video on YouTube where he was confronted by officers at the residence,” the affidavit states. “The officers told him that the property was owned by the U.S. government and he replied that the property belonged to him. The officers asked him how he got into the property after the locks were changed and he told him that it was not their concern.”
The Cromars have a juvenile daughter who was not at the house when police arrived, Cannon said, and officials did not know her whereabouts Thursday night.
“They wouldn’t say (where she is),” he said. “We just wanted to make sure that she was OK, but they wouldn’t even answer if she was OK. We assume she is, we hope she is, but we have no way of knowing where she is and what her status is. ... There’s a possibility that she’s out wandering the streets or sleeping in a city park. I don’t think that’s the case, but they weren’t even saying one way or the other that she was OK.”