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Thursday, June 03, 2010

Powder Mountain (aka Powderville) Update; Let's Talk Extortion!

By Ima Believer


Just my opinion, but I think what happened at the WC Commission meeting last night may have been the commission caving in to a well-orchestrated plan of extortion. I’m not a Utah lawyer; fact, I’m not even a lawyer, but I know a little about extortion, and I think we may well have seen it here. Here’s some random stuff from the net (in no particular order):
n, 2. Illegal use of one’s official position or powers to obtain property, funds, or patronage.

Britannica Concise Encyclopedia
Unlawful exaction of money or property through intimidation or undue exercise of authority (emphasis added here and elsewhere)

Columbia Encyclopedia
In most states of the United States, extortion is more widely defined to include the obtaining of money or property of another by inducing his consent through wrongful use of fear….

Law Encyclopedia
The obtaining of property from another induced by wrongful use of actual or threatened…fear, or under color of official right.
Virtually all extortion statutes require that a threat must be made to the person or property of the victim. Threats to harm the victim’s friends or relatives may also be included.
Under the common law and many statutes, an intent to take money or property to which one is not lawfully entitled must exist at the time of the threat in order to establish extortion.

n, Obtaining money or property by threat to a victim’s property or loved ones, intimidation, or false claim of right….
Most states define extortion as the gaining of property or money by almost any kind of force, or threat of 1)violence, 2)property damage, 3)harm to reputation, or 4)unfavorable government action.

Utah Code Ann. 76-6-406 Theft by Extortion
(1) A person is guilty of theft if he obtains or exercise control over the property of another by extortion and with a purpose to deprive him thereof.
(2) As used in this section, extortion occurs when a person threatens to:
(b)Subject the person threatened or any other person to physical confinement or restraint;….

Utah Code Ann. 76-8-104 Threats to influence official or political action.
(1)A person is guilty of a class A misdemeanor if he threatens any harm to a public servant,…with a purpose of influencing his action, decision, opinion, recommendation, nomination, vote, or other exercise of discretion.
(2) As used in this section:
(a)”Harm” means any disadvantage or injury, pecuniary or otherwise, including disadvantage or injury to any other person or entity in whose welfare the public servant…is interested.

So here’s the deal: it appears that the essence of extortion is a threat to do something, even something the extortionist may otherwise have a perfect right to do, for the purpose of obtaining something the extortionist has no right to have (in this case, zoning density well beyond what’s on the property when it was bought, if the Pronaia boys or their predecessors had taken the time and trouble to look.)

In fact, in some other states, extortion can occur when that threat is made even if the extortionist has a right to the property sought and the right to take the action that is threatened! Remember, it’s the threat that’s bad. Here’s how that works. Let’s say A writes B a bad check. B has an obvious right to the money, and can sue A for it, civilly. B also has the right to go to the prosecutor and file bad check charges against A. What he does NOT have the right to do is to threaten A that he will go to the prosecutor unless A pays the money. That’s extortion.

If, having gone to the prosecutor, B receives an offer from A to pay the money, or even if B receives payment and drops the criminal case, no problem. But if B says to A “I’ll only drop the charges if you agree to pay me twice what you owe me,” that’s extortion. Isn’t this fun?

Are we getting the picture, here? Now, once again, that may not be the way things work here in Utah, where the law isn’t quite as well developed as in other states, but then again, it may be. Either way, it sure leaves a bad taste when it happens, doesn’t it? And when the Pronaia boys threatened to continue their campaign to establish their town and hold the citizens captive, without a vote, unless the county commissioners gave them more than twice the density to which they were entitled, the commissioners didn’t say: “Hey, that sounds like extortion!” They said: “That sure sounds reasonable to us.”

Wonder what they’ll demand next?


Ernest said...

Extortion - an ugly word, but appropriate in this case. This is an ugly situation where money hungry developers hold a group of homeowners and a Utah County hostage in order to get concessions that would be modified or even denied in the normal development process.

The worst part about it is Pronaia tries to act like the saviour of the Valley, when in fact they are the Prince of Darkness.

Beth said...

Blame the state legislature for putting PowderMt Town residents and the county commissioners in a no win situation. The incorporation existed and threatened us more than increased density. They chose the lesser of two evils.
Just my opinion ;-)

Grizelda said...

What is lost in all of this is the Weber County Commissioners dumped on their own Ogden Valley Planning Commission who spent many hours of work and effort to come up with the 19 conditions only to see the WC Commissioners now dismiss their hard work.

It is apparent that the Weber County Commissioners consider the OVPC almost worthless and a token player at best on Valley issues.

When the people keep electing biased people like Zogmaister, you get what you deserve.

Zoggy must go said...

I understand that planning commissioner Keith Rounkles approached the County commissioners after the meeting and handed them a huge stack of papers related to the PM rezone and stated something to the effect of, "I wasted three years of my life on this?"

Black Tooth said...

Beth, did it ever occur to you that our Weber County Commissioners could have stood tall and said way back in the process that they would not sign off on the incorporation since it deprives some of their Weber County constituents of their civil rights?

You won't see that kind of intestinal fortitude with the pro developer leadership we have now.

Time for a change said...

What is on display for all to see is the lack of integrity of the Weber County Commissioners. They ignored that long standing 3 acre provision when it suited their agenda and dismissed the efforts of the Ogden Valley Planning Commission that had worked very hard on the 19 conditjons for the zoning change.

Pronaia who will be calling the shots now in that area, said that TDR's are not effective most places they looked around the country. You can see the handwriting on the wall that the Weber County Commissioners have relegated the Ogden Valley area as fair game and to be the next Park City.

Why? Because they don't live up here!

Get Zogmaister out, vote for DREW JOHNSON FOR SEAT A IN NOVEMBER!