Judgment Day | News | Salt Lake City | Salt Lake City Weekly

Judgment Day 

For the subjects of three 2007 City Weekly cover stories, life has taken distinctly different turns.

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Robert Paisola had a hard day Dec. 17.

He appeared with his lawyer in Provo’s 4th District Court on a charge of failing to register as a sex offender. Paisola, who drives two Lexus automobiles, pleaded indigence and requested a public defender. Judge Samuel McVey questioned him about his finances, then denied the request. With the trial set for early March 2008, Paisola left the courtroom only to be served with a lawsuit on the courthouse steps.

Lawyers representing a Texas-based firm, Splash Media, have been trying to serve him for months. Splash Media owns a personal-coaching business called the Success Training Network [STN]. Paisola became a STN affiliate in August 2006, only to then hijack the network’s name to promote his own debt-counseling services, according to Splash’s complaint filed in a Texas district court this October. Splash is suing the 40-year-old Lehi resident for trademark infringement. In federal court documents, they call Paisola “a career criminal, a convicted felon and a con artist.”

Paisola’s criminal history, including insurance fraud, loan-application fraud and kiddie-porn possession, was the subject of a May 24 City Weekly profile, “Conman.com.” The story detailed how Paisola used Websites to damage business reputations and cyber-squatted on domain names to extort money from several companies.

The last six months have brought Paisola the attention he told City Weekly last April he craved. Results of a Google search for his name lead off with several highly negative Websites. This doesn’t surprise Arizona-based private investigator John Brewington, who has followed Paisola’s exploits for more than a year. “The sword you wield is very likely going to be the sword that cuts you,” he says of Paisola’s use of the Internet.

Some of the attention was more positive. After his sister Lisa Paisola survived the iceberg-sinking of an Antarctic bound cruise ship in November, Robert Paisola fielded calls from TV and newspapers. He was interviewed on several local channels.

He did not, however, return calls from City Weekly, seeking comments on the Splash Media lawsuit. Brewington believes the man Splash Media calls “a career scam artist” in its complaint isn’t “doing anything different from the things that landed him in jail in the past.”

A week before Paisola’s December court appearance, inventor Paul Pantone also had a crucial date with counsel. City Weekly’s July 26 story, “Fuel Injected Lunatic,” charted Pantone and his supporters’ battle to get him out of the Utah State Hospital. The USH has sought through the courts to have him forcibly medicated with antipsychotic drugs.

On Dec. 11, Pantone entered a West Jordan courtroom by wheelchair. His already poor health has significantly declined since the story’s publication, due in part to an infection following foot surgery. But Pantone should have been in good spirits that day. Provo-based lawyer Justin Heideman certainly was. He’s been fighting to replace Pantone’s public defender for eight months. From court papers filed by the Attorney General’s Office, Heideman says he had every expectation Judge Royal Hanson was finally going to allow him to represent Pantone in his appeal against Hanson’s ruling that the state could forcibly medicate him.

Unknown to Heideman, Pantone’s supporters served Hanson with a motion to recuse the judge from the case just before the hearing. Back in May, Hanson gave Heideman special status as friend of the court, which allowed him to advise Hanson on issues affecting Pantone. If Hanson were recused, then Heideman might be excluded from helping Pantone with his appeal.

Heideman couldn’t believe what Pantone’s supporters had done. “I was jazzed driving up to the hearing,” he says. “I was finally obtaining status as counsel; I was getting the appeal going, getting Paul moving along. And, now, we might not even have a judge. I don’t understand why they did this. It’s so stupid.”

Paul Pantone Defense Project leader George Gaboury is unapologetic. “What good is a lawyer when you’ve got a judge that is not playing fair?” he says. If they have to use a public defender, they will. “Let the man go,” Gaboury pleads on behalf of the ailing Pantone.

While Paisola appears not to have changed and Pantone’s luck only to have worsened, cancer patient Chris Hutcherson has a different story to tell. In the City Weekly June 14 cover story “Dying to Live,” 29-year-old Hutcherson recounted his long battle with cancerous tumors. In 2002, doctors told him he had three years to live. When he entered hospice care in early 2006, doctors didn’t expect him to see Christmas. At the story’s end, Hutcherson was faced with having to give up his hospice team in order to pursue a radical new chemotherapy regime that even his mother questioned.

On Dec. 4, Hutcherson went to the Huntsman Cancer Institute to learn the results of a CAT scan of his tumor-bloated abdomen after two bouts of the new chemo drugs. Along with urinary tract and blood infections, throat and mouth sores, and his having to numb his penis tip to catheterise himself several times, Hutcherson also lost his hair. “I scratched my head and my finger went under my hair. Clumps just fell off.”

In the doctor’s waiting room, he was optimistic the therapy was working. “I’ve been saying my prayers,” he said. “I think it got smaller. My stomach feels softer. Before, it didn’t have too much room.”

Dr. Lei Chan reviewed his paperwork. “There’s shrinkage in the tumor,” she told him.

Hutcherson was in shock at the news. “I feel good,” he says. “Something worked out for once.”

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