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Four years ago, Steve Turley could not bring himself to say the "f word."
He said Wednesday afternoon that he was devastated to think that he had been charged with even one felony. But in 2011, he was facing 10.
On Wednesday, however, the last criminal charge was dismissed against the former Provo city councilman, who was accused of multiple instances of fraud.
"This has been a lot of hell," Turley said during a press conference. "We are today proud to have the judge confirm what we've always known: that there was no criminal activity on my part."
Turley, 46, was originally charged in 2011 with 10 second-degree felonies: one count of pattern of unlawful activity, seven counts of communication fraud and two counts of exploiting a vulnerable adult, alleging Turley engaged in a number of illegal real estate dealings between August 2006 and September 2009.
But last July, 4th District Judge James Taylor found that prosecutors had presented enough evidence at a preliminary hearing to support only one charge a single count of communications fraud and he dismissed the remaining nine counts.
On Wednesday, Utah County prosecutors asked the judge to dismiss the remaining count "at the request of the remaining victims," according to court documents.
"I did not nothing wrong," Turley said Wednesday. "I went about regular business, and in the course of business, there is disagreements."
Turley's defense attorney, Brett Tolman, said the charges were lobbed against his client because Turley's political adversaries and civil litigants were influencing the county attorney to file a criminal case. He said the allegations should have stayed in civil court.
"You have to have criminal intent," Tolman said. "If a party gets into a fight over money or a contract dispute, we have a system for solving that. And that's the civil courts."
Deputy Utah County Attorney Mariane O'Bryant said Wednesday, "We treated this as any other case. We had a number of complaints from people, we did the investigation, filed the case and went through the process."
The count dismissed Wednesday concerned a loan agreement Turley allegedly made with Trudy Childs in 2008. According to Taylor's ruling, Turley contacted Childs in an effort to buy 80 acres of property near Spanish Fork Canyon. When Childs told Turley she needed cash for ranch operations, Turley loaned her $30,000, according to the ruling.
Childs signed a document, Taylor wrote, agreeing that if she did not repay the $30,000, Turley would "have an option to purchase the property."
Childs testified that she thought "the property" they were talking about was just the 80-acre parcel of land, but when she didn't repay the money, Turley came back to her with an offer to buy the entire ranch.
"Viewed in the light most favorable to the state, there is evidence from which a jury could conclude that Turley bargained for an option to purchase 80 acres but later fraudulently inserted the description to include the entire ranch," Taylor wrote in his ruling.
But Childs wrote a letter to the Utah County Attorney's Office on Jan. 12 asking for them to cease the prosecution against Turley.
Childs said they have settled their civil case and that there was a "miscommunication." She also wrote that neither she nor her son, Rory Childs, saw the documents that outlined Turley's option to purchase the entire property.
Tolman said Childs' case boiled down to the fact that she didn't read the contract closely.
Meanwhile, the Childses are facing charges for unrelated crimes. Accused of malnourishing her horses, Trudy and Rory Childs are charged in Utah County Justice Court with 20 counts each of misdemeanor cruelty to an animal. Both have pleaded not guilty and they are expected to be in court on March 5.
Turley, who was charged in July 2011, resigned from the City Council in September 2011, just before his colleagues were to vote on whether to remove him from office. He said Wednesday that he felt people were too quick to push him out of office.
"I think there was a rush to justice," he said. "I think there was an intense amount of pressure to make this problem go away."
Now, Turley said he's working to overcome the four-year court battle and is rebuilding his life with his family.
"It really is starting over again," he said. "It put everything on hold. I couldn't move my schooling forward, I couldn't move my business forward. … When they [prosecutors] create that stigma and they attach it to you, I have to wear that and figure out a way to shuck that in the years to come."
The allegations in the other charges that were dismissed include that:
In 2008, Turley allegedly negotiated the re-opening of Springville restaurant, Brand X, with the former owner, but at about the same time, Turley leased the restaurant to someone else.
In 2006, Turley allegedly had home buyers sign a purchasing agreement that raised the offering price of a home he was building for them to $265,000, but promised them the final price would be $172,000. He then allegedly submitted the new purchasing agreement with the higher price to a bank and obtained an extension on the loan based on higher price.
Between 2007 and 2008 in Springville, Turley allegedly had a mentally and physically impaired 64- or 65-year-old woman sign over the lease on her residence without providing her any compensation and without making her aware of what she signed.
In 2007, Turley allegedly promised to deed a home to a person who had recently moved into a residence in Provo, but he failed to record the deed because he didn't have clear title to the home. Turley then allegedly listed the same home as an asset in a loan application.
In 2007, Turley allegedly had a 65-year-old person sign a quit-claim deed on a property in exchange for another property Turley would give him in exchange. Turley allegedly never completed the property transfer and later took out a loan on the victim's original home, which has since gone into foreclosure.
In 2009, Turley allegedly negotiated a deal with a construction company to work at a "significant mining project in Slate Canyon," while telling residents and the Provo Municipal Council that the area wouldn't be used as a gravel pit and that he wasn't interested in profits. He later admitted he could profit from developing the land and lied about how much material was going to be removed from the site, charging documents state.