Criminal charges dismissed against San Juan Co. sheriff, deputies

Posted at 5:13 PM, Nov 15, 2017

SALT LAKE CITY — A judge has dismissed criminal charges against San Juan County Sheriff Rick Eldredge and two of his deputies.

In a ruling handed down late Wednesday, 7th District Court Judge George Hammond dismissed all of the counts against Sheriff Eldredge and his deputies, Alan Freestone and Rob Wilcox.

The ruling essentially found that while there may have been some policy issues, there were no violations of the law.

“Because the state has not met its burden at preliminary hearing, and further based on the applicable law, the court declines to bind over Eldredge, Freestone and Wilcox for trial,” Judge Hammond wrote, dismissing the case.

Sheriff Eldredge faced witness retaliation and other charges, accusing him of pointing an unloaded gun at a department employee in deputy Wilcox’s presence. When that person complained, instead of ordering an outside investigation, the sheriff tasked Freestone with the probe.

Freestone was accused in court filings of attempting to protect Eldredge by failing to conduct a proper investigation. Wilcox and Eldredge are accused of providing false information to the Utah Attorney General’s Office as part of its investigation.

In his ruling, Judge Hammond said there was no evidence that showed any of them deceived the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

“The evidence is wholly lacking,” the judge wrote.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office said it was evaluating the judge’s order.

“We will review and determine whether we are going to appeal. We obviously would not have filed the case if we did not feel strongly about the facts,” said Dan Burton, a spokesman for Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes.

Read the judge’s ruling here: