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Police discussed potential of dementia with Ott's aide last year

Published June 14, 2017 10:41 am

Salt Lake County recorder • Police report details staffer's words to officers when official was found "extremely disoriented" last year.
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A month before county employees witnessed Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott struggling to answer simple questions at a public meeting last fall, a police report says Ott's aide and "long-term" friend said he had dementia.

But Karmen Sanone told The Salt Lake Tribune on Tuesday that she merely did not correct an officer who believed Ott had dementia "because it's difficult to go into explanations."

Last week, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams called for Ott's resignation in light of perceived declining health and mental competency, and Sanone told The Tribune earlier this week that Ott is interested in discussing an early retirement from his elected post.

Sanone has said that while Ott has faced health problems, mental illness is not one of them. Sanone has declined to elaborate on what his health issues are, but he said Tuesday that Ott has "a condition where he has a difficult time articulating what he's trying to say, and people often mistake that for confusion."

After police encountered an "extremely disoriented" Ott in Sanone's front yard on Sept. 2, a deputy wrote in a Weber County Sheriff's Office report that Sanone "explained that [Ott] does have dementia."

The officer was dispatched to Sanone's Weber County home about 2 p.m., after Ott's daughter Krystal Bates requested a welfare check because she thought he may be "possibly having a mental issue," the report says.

The officer found Ott in the front yard of the home and noted that Ott was unable to provide police with his birth date.

The officer wrote that "[Ott] explained that he lives at the home with his significant other," though the county recorder and his assistants have maintained that he lives in Salt Lake County, as required by law for him to retain his elected position. Though Sanone has been described as Ott's girlfriend in the past, she denied the characterization last week and said the two have instead had a "long-term friendship."

Ott was unable to tell the deputy Sanone's last name, where she was, or provide contact information for her, but he said he'd lived with Sanone for a "very long time."

Ott described Sanone as "a big mean lady," the report says, adding that he didn't want her to know about the incident because he was "very scared" of her.

Ott "stated that if [Sanone] came home, we would all be in danger," the officer wrote, but Ott couldn't explain why he felt that way, the report says.

The report says Ott told the officer that he had "things" inside of his head and that sometimes they moved to his back as well. Ott said he was on several medications but was unable to tell the officer where they were in the home, and he added that he hadn't taken them that day.

Ott "advised that he may have dementia but was unable to elaborate any further," the police report said.

The officer persuaded Ott to allow medical personnel to evaluate him in the house, and Ott agreed to go to McKay-Dee Hospital by ambulance after the officer determined that the county recorder was "a harm to himself given his condition" and should not be left alone.

The officer got Sanone's full name from a piece of mail in the home, and dispatchers connected the deputy with her.

Sanone told the officer she had left the home at noon and hadn't noticed Ott acting strangely, the report says, but she "explained that [Ott] does have dementia."

Sanone said Tuesday that the officer asked whether Ott had dementia, and she "didn't correct him." The officer told her that Ott knew where he was, "looked in good health and was taking care of himself, but he was angry," Sanone said.

Sanone said she remembers the officer saying Ott was angry and asking whether the two had been in a fight. She said there have been "at least two, if not more, investigations" of alleged abuse between her and Ott since the September incident, but they have yielded no findings of abuse.

The deputy's explanation for committing Ott to the hospital was because of how angry he seemed, Sanone said, adding that, to her recollection, Ott was "immediately released."

The report says the officer told Sanone that Ott would be at the hospital, and she thanked the officer for his help.

More recently, on May 11, a report from North Ogden police says officers were called to a grocery store, where an employee requested a welfare check on "an elderly gentleman [who] acted confused and didn't know where he was."

When an officer arrived just after 10:30 a.m., he found Ott down the road from the store, heading toward Sanone's house. Ott told the officer he was "just out for a walk" and that he "doesn't remember things very well."

Ott declined an offer for a medical evaluation, but he accepted a ride to Sanone's house, described in the report as Ott's home. The officer wrote that he dropped off Ott "without any problems."

Sanone said that when Ott is having trouble speaking, "the more he struggles, the worse it gets." People have Ott's best interest at heart when they are concerned, Sanone said, "but I think they misunderstand the situation. That's easy to do."


Twitter: @mnoblenews






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