Wednesday, April 23 2014, 09:23 AM MDT
Man Who Already Paid Ticket Now Facing Criminal Charges
Edited by Aaron Colborn
Photography by David Yost, Brian Morris and Jay Hancock
(KUTV) The building at 1600 South and State Street in Salt Lake City once housed a home alarm company. That company was sold in 2010, leaving the building vacant for owner Scott McQuarrie. McQuarrie does have a use for the space; he also runs a home business selling small video cameras online. Scott decided to move that business out of his house and into the vacant building.
“I had this large empty building down here not doing anything and I kind of wanted to clean up my garage," McQuarrie said.
A few months later, Scott says he was out of town when a business license enforcement officer from Salt Lake City showed up at the store and gave his only employee a ticket that instructed him to go home. McQuarrie didn’t have a Salt Lake City business license.
“Cease Operation until you have a license,” the ticket says. “Need to close your door until you have an approved city license.”
McQuarrie says that not getting a license was a simple oversight on his part and three days later when he got back into town, he immediately did as instructed and applied for a business license.
The next day, McQuarrie got an email from Salt Lake City. It tells him what he will need to pass a number of "inspections." It also says that he owes "$552;" $276 for the license and a "100% penalty for operating without a business license." The email does not list a due date, rather it says, "payment of fees is due immediately."
McQuarrie called the city and ordered his inspections and less than one week later, mailed them a check to cover his fees and Salt Lake City cashed that check.
Still, McQuarrie says his business license never arrived, so he called the business license enforcer to ask why. He says he was told he should have called her personally, sooner.
“Apparently she felt like I disrespected her and she's basically using her power to punish me," McQuarrie said.
That punishment: criminal charges. McQuarrie is now facing two misdemeanor charges for operating a business without a license, a crime that could mean a year in prison and a $2,000 fine.
“This is a situation of public bullying," McQuarrie said.
Not wanting to go to court and possibly jail over a crime for which he has already paid, McQuarrie decided to Get Gephardt.
Salt Lake City spokesperson Art Raymond says McQuarrie was given multiple opportunities to comply before criminal charges were filed and that he had been “non-responsive.” Still, the evidence shows that McQuarrie’s check was received by Salt Lake City and cashed a full two months before the city filed charges against him.
Raymond denies McQuarrie's allegations that the enforcement officer is trying to punish him for not calling her personally.
"This isn't a punishment,” Raymond said. “This is part of a statutorily outlined enforcement procedure. We don't operate that way."
Raymond emphasized that McQuarrie had been warned that payment was due immediately.
"A check in the mail was not going to accomplish the kind of time frame that he was working under which was essentially, we need payment immediately."
"I couldn't have responded any quicker," McQuarrie said.
After calls to Salt Lake City from Get Gephardt, McQuarrie was issued a business license. However, criminal charges against him are proceeding. A jury trial is scheduled from August 13, 2013.
McQuarrie is currently trying to sell his building. He says running a business in Salt Lake City is too difficult.
(Copyright 2013 Sinclair Broadcasting Group)