SALT LAKE CITY — A judge signed a deal Friday for an embattled Utah elected official to resign amid questions about his mental capacity.

Judge Bruce Lubeck approved the agreement that calls for Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott to receive a $35,000 severance. He will step down Aug. 1, and his replacement is expected within about six weeks.

The county reached the agreement with Ott’s siblings, who Lubeck named his legal guardians while he is treated at a medical facility.

Ott’s aide Karmen Sanone, who’s been identified as his girlfriend, expressed concern about the agreement to the Deseret News. Sanone had wanted to replace Ott’s siblings as his legal guardian, and she said she was shocked by the deal reached days after Lubeck ruled against her.

Public concern about Ott’s condition has been growing for more than a year after he was found by police walking along a highway in January 2016, wearing light clothes despite frigid temperatures and speaking incoherently.

An audit last year found that Ott had little oversight or involvement in his office’s activities.

When county council members questioned him at a hearing in October, he gave jumbled answers and struggled to answer basic questions such as “What’s your address?”

County council members have raised concerns Ott is being manipulated by Sanone and his chief deputy, Julie Dole. They deny it.

Ott, a 64-year-old Republican, has served in this position since 2001. The county recorder is responsible for overseeing the management and keeping of deeds and other property records. Ott received a taxpayer-funded salary of about $150,000 annually.

He was elected to a six-year term ending in 2020 and could not legally be forced to resign by county officials.

Ott’s siblings were granted temporary legal guardianship last week and immediately moved to work out a resignation deal, said their lawyer, Mary Corporon. They’re relieved he can retire in privacy, she said.

Author photo
The AP is one of the largest and most trusted sources of independent newsgathering. AP is neither privately owned nor government-funded; instead, as a not-for-profit news cooperative owned by its American newspaper and broadcast members, it can maintain its single-minded focus on newsgathering and its commitment to the highest standards of objective, accurate journalism.