Utah Company Accused Of Defrauding Hunter $36K Won’t Be Prosecuted, Officials Say
OGDEN, Utah — Prosecutors with the Weber County Attorney’s Office said there is not enough evidence to prosecute an outfitter, who accusers said took tens of thousands of dollars from them.
“In some of those cases there is insufficient evidence to charge criminally,” said Deputy Weber County Attorney Nicholas Caine in an email. “Other cases would require additional investigation, and our office would review that additional information if and when it is provided.”
Joe Stokes, who lives in Georgia, said he learned earlier this week that his case was one of those that would not be prosecuted. In February of last year, a contract stated he paid Tyler Watson, owner of Majestic Valley Outfitters, $18,000 as a deposit for a hunting trip for him and his son. Stokes said as the time for the trip came closer, he paid another $18,000 and said his next-door neighbor also paid $36,000 total, so he could come along and bring a co-worker.
“As we were getting to maybe a month out, it was hard to reach Tyler Watson. He wouldn’t take our calls,” Stokes said. “I would text him. I would email him, and I would call him, and I didn’t get much of a response.”
Stokes said he eventually heard back. The news was not good.
“He says you know, ‘I’m sorry. I couldn’t get the vouchers,'” Stokes recalled. “‘It just couldn’t work out. I was not able to get them. Didn’t get them on the other lease either, so I basically ruined your hunt.’ And I said, ‘yes sir, you sure have.'”
Stokes said efforts to get the money back were also unsuccessful.
“I said, ‘mail me my money back,’ and that’s when he started hesitating,” Stokes explained. “And he said, ‘well, I don’t have the money.’ I said, ‘so you’re taking my money, and I have no hunt?’ And he said, ‘No, no, no. I’ll pay you back.'”
Stokes said that never happened.
The Utah Division of Occupational, and Professional Licensing, or DOPL, took disciplinary action against Watson last December. Watson had to surrender his business license, and will not be able to apply for another one for five years. Stokes, however, said that did very little to make up for his loss.
“That’s stealing,” Stokes said. “I don’t know of any other words to say. That’s just theft.”
A Roy Police Department spokesman told KSL Thursday that detectives were still following up on similar cases tied to Watson, but couldn’t comment further.
“It was a devastating blow,” Stokes said. “How can somebody take the volume of money that he took just from me, and from my next-door neighbor, and just walk away, and nothing’s going to happen to him?”
Efforts to reach Tyler Watson Thursday were unsuccessful.
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