It was a textbook in-and-out initial appearance in 3rd District Court for two of the petition sponsors behind a rezone referendum in Stansbury Park who were charged with misdemeanors.
Erin Giles, 33, of Stansbury Park, is charged with two counts of misdemeanor misconduct of electors and officers for a referendum. Rachel Torzillo, 27, of Tooele, is charged with one count of the same misdemeanor.
Torzillo and Giles appeared with their attorney, Katherine Priest, and were advised of the charges by Judge Matthew Bates. Giles and Torzillo were scheduled for a scheduling conference on Sept. 25 at 1:30 p.m. before Gates.
The charges against Giles and Torzillo stem from an investigation into the verification statements on the referendum petition, which concerned a high density housing development. A detective in the Tooele County Sheriff’s Office was assigned to investigate if the verification signers on the petition witnessed those who signed, according to a probable cause statement.
The investigation determined at least 27 signatures in referendum packets signed by Torzillo and Giles were not witnessed by them, the statement said.
On Aug. 7, Tooele County Attorney Scott Broadhead released a statement, in which he said he didn’t believe Utah Code allowed him to not prosecute the charges against Giles and Torzillo. He specifically cited a section of the state code that states the county attorney “shall prosecute” the section of code the county attorney’s office believes was violated.
The referendum effort was started to give voters the opportunity to overturn the Tooele County Commission’s decision to rezone 5.38 acres north of the intersection of Clubhouse Drive and Country Club Drive from commercial shopping and single-family residential to high density housing.
Tooele County Clerk/Auditor Marilyn Gillette, in a statement to the sponsors, said Derald Anderson, the applicant for the rezone, made allegations the verifiers had not watched each person sign the petition on July 10.
Petition sponsors were tasked with collecting 2,749 valid signatures to certify the referendum petition. Gillette checked the verification signatures on the submitted signatures and found 2,755 valid signatures, prior to the allegations by Anderson.