UTAH COUNTY, Utah, Feb. 8, 2021 (Gephardt Daily) — Authorities in Utah County have filed charges against nine suspected organizers of an unauthorized mass gathering that drew thousands of partiers to the west side of Utah Lake in the Knolls area on Halloween night.
Sgt. Spencer Cannon, public information officer for the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, told Gephardt Daily at the time that the event drew a crowd of some 10,000 partygoers. The party was dubbed “The Protest on Halloween’ by organizers.
The event openly violated the state and county’s public health orders requiring that masks be worn “at any public gathering, such as live events, movie theaters, sporting events, weddings, recreation, and entertainment. This mask requirement is for all counties, no matter what level of transmission risk a county is in.”
In a press conference Monday morning, Utah County Attorney David Leavitt said: “We are not issuing charges for the sake of issuing charges. Every charge we issue has a purpose behind it because we’re not here to charge 10,000 people for going to a party. We’re here to charge those who participated in the organization of the party, those who advanced it, and possibly those who possibly obstructed the investigation.”
Leavitt said class B misdemeanor charges will be filed against the event’s organizers for allegedly willfully violating a state health order.
Those facing the misdemeanor charges are: Branden Abel Estrada, of Sandy, Talifolaukovi Roger Foliaki, of Pleasant Grove, Andrew Ivie, of Midway, Erik Scott Little, of Sandy, James D. McReynolds, of Lindon, Daniel Edward Mortenson, of Eden, Samuel Mark Nii, of Orem, Sadie Brooke Salisbury, of Draper and Tanner G. Valerio, of Bluffdale.
In addition, Estrada, Little, Nii and Valerio face civil penalties of up to $10,000 from the Utah County Department of Health for not adhering to the county’s public health order on social gatherings.
The companies associated with the party, The Tribe, LLC and Young and Dumb, LLC have also been issued civil penalties of $10,000 each.
Leavitt added: “While I fully understand the desire to gather, we have a responsibility to our neighbors, families, and friend’s health and welfare. Knowingly violating the laws and failing to comply with orders won’t get a pass.”