West Jordan council member accused of hit-and-run pleads guilty

Posted at 8:58 AM, Oct 07, 2016
and last updated 2016-10-07 18:53:35-04

WEST JORDAN, Utah — A member of the West Jordan City Council has pleaded guilty to a charge of leaving the scene of an accident.

Witnesses told police that Jeff Haaga left a bar drunk and hit a parked car on his way out of the parking lot back in July. Haaga initially pleaded not guilty, but he changed his plea Friday morning.

Haaga will now serve probation and pay a fine, but he said he will not resign his seat on the city council.

"There's no reason for him to resign. My client made a mistake. He admits fully that he made the mistake. He's issued a statement indicating that he's made a mistake, and I would hope that all public officials who make mistakes would accept responsibility, as Mr. Haaga did, and deal with it the exact same way that he's done it," said Tyler Ayres, Haaga's defense attorney.

Scott Burns, the prosecutor in the case, said Haaga received neither special treatment nor harsher treatment, given his position as a city council member.

Video taken from a South Jordan police officer's body camera shows the officer confronting Haaga at his West Jordan home, where Haaga was given a misdemeanor citation for failing to remain at the scene of an accident.

"The officers were kind of on the fence with the DUI, and there's a few reasons as to why they didn't decide to go down that road. One of them is he [wasn't in] physical control of his vehicle any longer. He had been home for quite some time, approximately an hour, and his vehicle was in the garage. So it's tough to tie that together and go backwards at that point," said Lt. Matt Pennington, South Jordan Police Department.

A city council vote to censure Haaga failed to get the four votes needed to pass.

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