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Former Days of '47 rodeo chief charged with fraud

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — The former rodeo chairman of the annual Days of '47 celebration is facing criminal charges alleging he rerouted some $305,000 in rodeo funds into his own bank accounts.

Brad Harmon was charged Thursday in 3rd District Court with second-degree felony counts of unlawful dealing of property by a fiduciary, communications fraud and pattern of unlawful activity. The 53-year-old Taylorsville man is accused of taking the money from sponsors and depositing it into two bank accounts for his own use.

A warrant was issued for his arrest, with bail set at $10,000. Harmon did not have a phone listing, and it was not immediately clear whether he has an attorney. Days of '47 President Craig Peterson declined to comment.

Police allege that between 2002 and 2011, about $268,000 in checks made out to "Days of '47 Rodeo," or a variation of that, was deposited into Harmon's Wells Fargo account. The account was empty by March 2011.

Investigators said some $36,000 in similar checks was allegedly deposited into Harmon's Cyprus Credit Union account over a one-year period ending in March 2012.

A board member told detectives that all withdrawals from the two accounts should have been spent on the rodeo, but investigators discovered they were spent on everyday expenses such as dry cleaning, gas and grocery store items, according to the charges.

A year ago, the Utah nonprofit that runs the Days of '47 celebration fired Harmon and filed a civil lawsuit against him. The complaint contends Harmon set up a separate corporation to steal rodeo equipment, contracts and other assets from the event. An out-of-court settlement was reached in that case.

Harmon, a former Salt Lake County sheriff's deputy, was scheduled to appear in court Tuesday.

Days of '47 celebrates the arrival of the first pioneers in the Salt Lake Valley with an annual rodeo, parade and other events in July.

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