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Cover Story

Neighborhood Watched Page 1

Saratoga Springs residents tread lightly to avoid the long arm of the law.

By Stephen Dark
Photo by Erik Daenitz 
Posted // March 2,2011 - As Dave Alexander and his teenaged children sat down to dinner in early January, they heard a knock at the door. One of his daughters opened the door and called out, “It’s for you, Dad.” When Alexander went to the door, he was confronted by three heavily armed Joint County Apprehension Team [J-CAT] officers on his porch. In total, 15 well-armed J-CAT officers, used by Utah County to apprehend violent fugitives, had surrounded the night-shrouded premises.

Alexander knew what they wanted. For the past six weeks, he and his family had endured numerous, if less threatening, encroachments on their property by the Saratoga Springs Police Department [SSPD]. Officers wanted to talk to their 20-year-old son, Ryan Alexander. Such was the Alexanders’ frustration with the SSPD that they had posted a copy of the Fourth Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, forbidding unlawful search and seizures, on their front door. Unbeknownst to the Alexanders, Ryan was wanted for an $1,895 warrant for failing to appear at court to update Saratoga Springs Justice Court Judge Keith Stoney on his attendance at counseling classes relating to an altercation the summer before.

The J-CAT officer told Dave Alexander they were doing a favor for SSPD. Alexander told them, unless they had a warrant, they couldn’t come in. While talking to officers, a boyfriend of one of Alexander’s daughters walked by behind him. “There he is,” the officer shouted, misidentifying their suspect, and J-CAT stormed the premises. Alexander’s 2-year-old granddaughter wandered around saying “hi” to the armed men as they rushed down the stairs to the basement apartment in a fruitless search for Ryan. Twenty minutes later, empty handed, J-CAT left.

Dave’s wife, Danea, says she wants to put a sign up on the outskirts of the town: “Welcome to Saratoga Springs, where the citizens have no rights.” The Alexanders are among a group of people who believe Utah County’s sprawling developments located on the west side of Utah Lake, has become increasingly beleaguered by overzealous law enforcement and judicial misconduct. Complaints about officers routinely pulling over residents for the flimsiest of excuses have peppered a Facebook page dedicated to a campaign called “No to Stoney.” That campaign, led by Edward Peltekian and his son Ryan, Californian transplants to Saratoga Springs, unsuccessfully sought the ouster of Judge Stoney in the November 2010 election.

Saratoga Springs sits on the far side of Utah Lake, west of Orem and Provo, a seemingly peaceful, sleepy little town, where swathes of former LDS Church welfare farmland give way to subdivisions climbing toward the mountains or to the lake’s edge. In winter, the lake freezes over while snow-draped mountains rise behind the rapidly growing bedroom community. Walmart’s already located here, and the National Security Agency is building a $1.5 billion facility by neighboring Camp Williams.

Saratoga Springs Mayor Mia Love, who made headlines in her 2009 election as Utah’s first black woman mayor, talks of Saratoga evolving into a resort town, of bringing “the lake into the city,” where urban resources, outdoor recreation and rural living exist side by side, providing “the best of all worlds.” While she acknowledges the town has “got its kinks,” she truly believes “it’s going to be the greatest place to live in the state.”

DOG FIGHT
One of those “kinks” has been the Peltekian family. City Weekly reporter Eric S. Peterson documented the Peltekians’ battle with Judge Stoney in the Sept. 2 article “Dog Day in Court.” What started with a citation for the family dog Rango escaping into the street culminated with the family’s mother, Elaine Damron-Peltekian, being sent to jail for 24 hours by Stoney, without, her husband says, due process. The judge jailed her for using her cell phone to record court proceedings, something she says she stopped doing when told to by the bailiff. While Stoney was retained by the Utah County-wide vote on judges, Edward Peltekian says 53 percent of Saratoga residents voted against Stoney. “This crusade is about going against people in power who are supposed to protect us, and instead are abusing us,” Peltekian says.

But the Peltekians’ dogged battles with Stoney pale beside those of town “son” Craig Wayman. His parents started the town, he says, which, via Redwood Road, is a 45-minute drive from downtown Salt Lake City.

His 80-year-old mother still lives in a house on a hill overlooking the town, which is about 80 percent LDS in religious affiliation. Wayman’s father’s metal sculptures still decorate land by the lake’s edge. Wayman himself built many of the retaining walls and rock formations that mark homes in distinct neighborhoods sprouting off the main roads of Redwood and State Route 73.

Wayman’s easy-going cowboy manner and sky-blue eyes belie the tension in his voice as he endlessly describes to whoever will listen how the Saratoga Springs criminal justice system violated his civil rights. Two and a half years ago, he was “a 47-year-old man with a clean record and no history of violence in his past,” according to a presentation he wrote to the Attorney General’s Office. Back then, neighbors and former clients say, Wayman was known for his fair pricing and work ethic.

However, in the past two years, his life has been derailed by two convictions for domestic violence, one of which was subsequently overturned, and one for felony stalking as well as spending 5 months in jail. He has become “Public Enemy No. 1” in Saratoga Springs, he says; at one time, Saratoga Springs Detective Bruce Champagne and City Prosecutor Lindsay Jarvis were both listed on a protective order by a 4th District Court judge as people Wayman could have no contact with. He says he has lost his home to foreclosure as well as his business, property and around $500,000, due to periods in jail, a contentious divorce and his ongoing legal battles to clear his name.

Wayman has angrily maintained his claims of innocence, appealing his convictions, only for more charges to be brought against him by Jarvis. Their fight most recently culminated in a showdown on Feb. 10, 2011, in Utah County-American Fork District Court when Wayman faced four counts of protective order violations. This time, a six-person jury found him not guilty. Jarvis says both she and Champagne cannot comment on this story, since her office is appealing several decisions.

Larry Larsen, Wayman’s former attorney, argues that, for Saratoga residents, Wayman’s judicial hammering has sent a clear message. “If they are going to do that to him, am I next in line?” But Wayman says, “What started as exposing me as a wife beater and stalker,” ended up instead exposing more complex problems within Saratoga’s criminal-justice system than simply a judge some residents have loudly characterized as a vindictive bully.

Judge Stoney sees the complaints as bellyaching. “I have seen no indications that the few convicted felons and misdemeanants that have complained about the police, the prosecution or the court, represent the law-abiding citizens of Saratoga Springs,” Stoney says.

Just2SonFamily.jpgThis has been a fight, argue supporters of Wayman, that several elements of Saratoga’s criminal-justice system have taken personally. “They intimidate you, they embarrass you, and expect you to crawl into a hole,” Wayman says. “Somebody had to step up and confront them, and I am the guy it ended up being.”

Danea Alexander echoes Wayman’s frustration with the system. She says that a Saratoga Springs Police officer, close to tears, approached her in Smith’s, where she works as a clerk, and apologized profusely for the harassment she and her family endured from, she says he told her, a few officers “who have hard-ons for making people’s lives miserable.”

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REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // June 7,2011 at 13:12

I dated Craig for almost three years. He was abusive to me and my children, too. I believe his former wife is telling the truth.

 

Posted // June 16,2011 at 08:37 - For the record, Michael Brown, is Britney Champagne, who is the daughter of det. Bruce Champagne. Other aliases, Brandon, Her own acknowledged, Britney, and now Michael. Funny how if you read her comments in earlier posts, she eludes to having information which she wants to post, her twisted ego won't allow her to just walk away, from what has the potential to be some pretty serious charges against her, and in fact will be very damaging to her fathers up coming POST investigation. this information is all from the investigation that bruce champagne put together, entirely based on the say so of my ex-wife, yes the one who was just recently admitted by a judge to a long term mental health facility. reality is many of her statements are incorrect, I will leave this to the investigator to sort through. this young lady, is a product of her up bringing, based on what I know to be realities about her fathers character, or rather lack of, it would be nothing short of insanity to expect her to turn out even half way normal. The young lady, becky brooks, who miss champagne chose to slander by falsely representing to be her, brings to mind a similar situation I dealt with several years ago. It would seem her ex. husbands new wife, who just happened to be a case worker for the state of utah, took it upon herself to do some very similar stunts to what miss. champagne is now doing. she was exposed, arrested, and fired by the state, and yes charged. Her name was Leiah Summers, miss champagne, you might have your daddy pull the case. Just because your daddy says it's so, doesn't particularly make it a reality. Britney you want to keep playing this game, be assured there will be a price to pay.

 

Posted // June 16,2011 at 06:19 - Craig, what exactly are you denying? Do you deny that it was your reckless driving that killed your son Jeremy and parlyzed your wife Monica? Do you deny ever slapping Monica? Do you deny not paying support forcing Monica on welfare and Kelly and Jesse on Medicaid? Do you deny that the state of Utah had to go after you for the back support they paid for your children? Do you deny that you have had previous run ins with the law? Do you deny ever spitting on Melinda? We all have to grow up and accept our faults eventually, including you.

 

Posted // June 14,2011 at 20:31 - wow miss champagne, Britney, It would appear your on one of your rantings again. You do realize your setting yourself up for some pretty serious charges, with this slander, and defamation of character. Ms. Thomas, Rhonda will also attest to the falseness of this posting. wow, you folks are to much, I'm going to enjoy seeing the outcome of a certain Post complaint.

 

Posted // June 14,2011 at 10:19 - I HAVE SIT BACK AND STAYED SILENT. BUT CRAIG PLAYING THE VICTIM IS JUST TO MUCH FOR ME. I AM HIS SECOND WIFE AND ALSO A VICTIM OF HIS ABUSE. AND I REMENBER THINGS DIFFERENTLY. I REMEBER THAT HE WAS THE ONE DRIVING HIS FOUR WHEEL DRIVE WITH MONICA ON THE WAY TO GET MARRIED IN VEGAS. SHE WAS SIXTEEN AND PREGNANT. THEIR BABY DIED AS A RESULT OF THIS CRASH AND SHE WAS PARALYZED. AFTER THEY DIVORCED HE REFUSED TO PAY CHILD SUPPORT RESULTING IN HER GOING ON WELFARE AND KELLI AND JESSE BEING ON MEDICAID. HE WAS ALWAYS IN TROUBLE WITH THE LAW IN SOME FORM OR FASHION. WE DIVORCED AFTER LESS THAN TWO YEARS OF MARRIAGE DUE TO HIS EMOTIONAL AND PHYSICAL ABUSE. HE HAD SEVERAL LIVE IN GIRLFRIENDS WHO ALL SAID THE SAME THING. AND NOW WIFE NUMBER THREE IS TELLING THE SAME STORY. PLEASE PEOPLE WAKE UP AND HEAR US!

 

Posted // June 11,2011 at 18:17 - This is pretty pathetic , Becky Brooks, did not write that comment, i have a written statement from her saying she did not. Reality is, this is the Champagne's at it again. This man and his families willingness to try to sway public opinion, and plant a seed of doubt by posting anonymous, and using false names, is truly sick. These people have something wrong with them. Will be adding this to my POST complaint, Bruce. This is how they do it in Saratoga Springs, standard procedure. If you can't get a legitimate conviction, then create evidence to assure it.....

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // May 19,2011 at 11:30 I live in SS and have never had a problem with the police dept. How about everyone just follow the laws and then you won't have to worry about it. Ya, ya, I've read..that's not the point of the article...its about citizen's rights. Well, if you have nothing to hide, why not just let the police in your house on your own free will? Seems like NOT letting them in without a warrant is cause enough for them to be alarmed!

 

Posted // May 19,2011 at 21:04 - Why don't we all just go to jail with no charges, no crime committed, just so that Stoney gets his jollies.

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // March 10,2011 at 16:29

I ask everyone that reads the comments to post on facebook,myspace,etc.lets make a push for the right direction

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // March 8,2011 at 22:41

You should only respect law enforcement, if they are respectable. I'm the first to acknowledge those officers who do their job with integrity, and honesty. We know what kind of crap an individual takes in this city if they stand up to the nonsense, but patience, it takes time. Would seem my claims had merit, based on four not guilty verdicts, and a Judge granting me sole custody of my boys.

 

Posted // March 26,2011 at 08:26 - Brandon, Britney, You give new meaning to the word ignorance, but then considering that your father is det. Bruce Champagne, it would explain that. No I am not a police hater, but good try, this would be standard procedure with your father, to attempt to sway public opinion, as well as his coworkers. Would seem most of them are wise to his tactics, would also explain officer Rosens legal actions at the moment with this P.D. As to my wife being terrified of me, would seem she has dropped protective order, as well as her family is seeking to get her help for her mental health issues. This whole stupid situation is because det. Champagne didn't have enough sense to look into the facts a little closer, then stooped to creating his own. Wow, you are unbelievable, and you want to blow it off as a joke, I don't think so. You people are seriously disturbed...

 

Posted // March 10,2011 at 23:53 - I have not once heard you say anything decent about police officers. To me you come off as somewhat of a "cop hater" in fact. From what I have heard you were not granted custody of your boys because you are considered a law abiding citizen, your wife was terrified of you and extremely concerned for her safety. She handed them over because it was the only way to be rid of you. You lucked out on 4 charges but do you mind me asking how may other charges there are that you were not as lucky with?

 

REPLY TO THIS COMMENT
Posted // March 7,2011 at 19:47

Again well said Black Mumba... The young man admitted he missed his court date and didnt take care of his warrant because he had lost his job. If he had notified the court immediately after his court date and asked to appear before the Judge he could have asked for another way to go about his fines like work diversion or something of the sort so the warrant could be cleared. If you are on probation you do give up certain rights and I am sure the young man was completely aware of those. They go over all of that when you are out on probation in detail! You also sign a paper stating you understand I believe. Everyone is so concerned about their rights but no one seems to care about consequences? Consequences are beneficial and it truly sucks, for lack of a better term, to be the person deserving of them but we learn at a young age, well at least my siblings and I did, that you accept them, learn from them and move on!

Where are all the supposed police men who have resigned? Why are they not stepping up and standing up for "our" civil rights with the rest of you? It would be nice to hear what they say.

Jessica, you are saying B.M. is the one passing judgments but it just seems so much like you and your fan club are doing just as much judging! I guess I didn't realize a person could personally know each and every person on the SSPD. You "smear" all of them daily.

Craig, in your response to B.M. you tried to distort what they had said? Hypocritical much? You know very well that was not what was implied. Oh,haha I almost forgot... Light back at ya sport! :)

Let me just say I have really enjoyed reading B.M.'s responses and I have a high respect for the things this person has said. Seems like a very unbiased point of view. This person has been on both ends and yet is a better person because of it and has such a great outlook on things! That is a person who should be proud of who they are, the ability to overcome trials life throws at us, and the strength to accept what they have done and not place blame on others.

You should respect those willing to take on a career like law enforcement. Not everyone can hold a position like that. It is dangerous and time consuming and it would be hard to come home every day after seeing homocides, child abuse and so forth, and expect to still enjoy a normal evening not thinking about such tragic things.

As for the Judge, and his alleged wife abuse accusations; still no proof and were they not dismissed? From what I hear he was going through somewhat of a messy divorce which is quite common. Women make such wild claims to gain custody of the kids and Craig, were you not stating that almost very same defense? Again, hypocritical.