Crime

Former Layton councilman surrenders on felony vandalism charge for damaging city surveillance camera

A former Layton city councilman showed up at the Marathon jail late Tuesday afternoon to turn himself on a felony vandalism charge.

John Cromartie, 62, is charged with felony criminal mischief for destroying -- he admitted it -- one of the small city's outdoor surveillance cameras. Three members of the five-member City Council met in special session Sunday night to vote to press charges. Voting for charges were Clark Snow and Katie Scott. Phillip Porter dissented.

Cromartie, a councilman from 2003 to 2011, said he moved a city video camera on Snake Creek Drive, where he lives, on Thursday after his neighbor David King, 54, complained it was pointed at his house.

"I was in my yard and my neighbor thought the cameras were installed to spy on him and his wife," Cromartie said. "He was yelling and raising hell."

The next day, Skip Haring, administrative assistant to Mayor Norman Anderson, called the Monroe County Sherriff's Office when he saw the damaged camera.

According to a report by Deputy James Hager, the camera has $1,000 worth of damage and it will take $500 worth of labor to replace it.

"In the video, John can be seen sticking out his middle fingers at the camera," Hager wrote. "He is then seen approaching the camera with a rake. He then strikes the left side of the camera with the rake. After hitting the camera, it turns a different color, it then goes blurry. It is clear enough that John can be seen walking away, again sticking his middle finger at the camera."

Haring gave Hager a signed statement saying he wants to press charges on behalf of the city.

Cromartie said a deputy called him Saturday night and told him he's facing the criminal-mischief count. Cromartie said he then got into contact with Haring about paying restitution instead of involving law enforcement.

That's when Haring and Anderson decided to call the special meeting and have the council vote whether to drop the charges. The City Council usually meets at 7 p.m. the first Thursday of every month.

Haring said the special meeting had to be held Sunday night to prevent the State Attorney's Office from issuing a warrant on Monday.

"Skip and Norman told me they'll hold the meeting and if I pay restitution, they won't press charges," Cromartie said.

The meeting didn't go as Cromartie expected. There were about 25 people in the room, some people speaking for him, some against.

"I was totally shocked when I got there," Cromartie said. "They told me to come in and pay the money. When I got there, it was basically a public humiliation orchestrated by the city."

Haring isn't sure why Snow and Scott voted to move forward with the charges. Cromartie theorizes his time on the council has won him a few enemies. Snow and Scott couldn't be reached for comment.

"Haring and I got into a lot of run-ins when I was a councilman," Cromartie said. "If I had known it was going to go that way, I wouldn't have gone to the meeting."

Sheriff's Office Capt. Gene Thompson, who was at the meeting, said a victim who presses charges against someone can drop them at any time before a warrant is issued.

Manny Madruga, chief assistant state attorney, said criminal mischief involving damages of $1,000 or more is considered a third-degree felony. The statute of limitations is three years, so it remains unclear why the special Sunday meeting was needed rather than address the matter at a regularly scheduled meeting.

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