Former officer gets jail time for his role in DUI extortion case

Courts • Matt Jones pleads guilty to offering a bribe to a public servant.
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A former law enforcement officer at the center of a bribery scheme will spend time in jail for his role in offering money to a Utah Highway Patrol trooper to keep him from losing his license in a drunken driving arrest.

Matt Jones, 35, pleaded guilty to offering a bribe to a public servant, a second-degree felony.

On Monday, 2nd District Judge Michael Lyon suspended a prison term of 1-15 years in favor of 36 months probation and 90 days in the Box Elder County jail, along with a $600 fine. Jones was allowed work release.

The sentence was identical to that handed down by Lyon earlier this month to co-defendant Daniel Kotter.

Kotter, a former Perry police officer, was accused in September 2011 of offering a Utah Highway Patrol trooper $1,000 to not appear at a Utah Drive License Division hearing for Jones, who had previously been an Ogden police officer and Weber County sheriff's deputy.

Kotter and the trooper communicated several times via texts and phone conversations, several of which the trooper recorded.

"... Kotter told [the trooper] that he did not want to call it a 'b-r-i-b-e' but a Christmas bonus," investigators wrote in Kotter's arrest warrant.

Jones was getting a job where he needed a commercial driver license, Kotter said, and didn't want to lose his license over the DUI.

Kotter also asked the trooper about Jones' blood-alcohol level. When the trooper replied via text message that it was about 0.15, almost double the legal limit, Kotter upped his offer to $2,500.

After a hearing was scheduled with the Driver License Division, Kotter met with the trooper at a Phillips 66 convenience store in Ogden and gave him $2,000 in cash in exchange for skipping the hearing.

Kotter was arrested as he drove away from the store.

Jones said in court papers that Kotter knew the trooper well, and would take care of the matter. Jones said he and Kotter agreed to give the trooper " 'a Christmas present' for his willingness to help me out."

But Jones said Kotter told him the trooper wanted the money before Christmas, and since Jones did not have any money, Kotter agreed to pay the entire amount.

Jones admitted that he "aided or encouraged" Kotter's actions.

Twitter: @jm_miller