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Prosecutors want to use 1990s evidence against man in elder exploitation case

By Mark Shenefelt - | Nov 25, 2022

BEN DORGER, Standard-Examiner file photo

The 2nd District Court is seen on Friday, Nov. 15, 2019, in downtown Ogden.

OGDEN -- Attorneys for an Ogden couple charged with defrauding an elderly blind woman of more than $500,000 have objected to the use of evidence from a previous case that prosecutors say is similar to the current proceeding.

Charles Timothy Critchlow and his wife, Erin Chambers Critchlow, both 63, are charged with exploitation of a vulnerable adult and two counts of unlawful dealing of property by a fiduciary, second-degree felonies; and third-degree felony obstruction of justice.

Ogden police and Weber County prosecutors allege the couple befriended the 93-year-old Ogden woman to obtain funds for a land deal, a late-model pickup truck and a cabin home in Summit County.

They were charged in August 2021 and a judge found sufficient probable cause during a June 2022 preliminary hearing to advance the case to trial. In an interview and a lengthy affidavit after the charges were filed, Charles Critchlow vehemently denied the charges, saying the woman knew about all the transactions and approved of them. He also blasted police and prosecutors for alleged incompetence.

Since then, the Weber County Attorney's Office filed a motion to admit evidence from a 1990s civil case. According to the motion, Charles Critchlow in the early 1990s befriended a Kaysville widow who was blind and had dementia. The woman's nephew was executor of her estate and after her death in 1995 he noticed a parcel of land had been conveyed to Critchlow without "any compensation that would justify the transaction."

In a counterclaim against the subsequent civil case filed over the estate, Critchlow said the woman had conveyed the land "with full rights of survivorship." The suit later was dropped, but the Weber prosecutors now contend that the circumstances are similar enough to be aired in the trial against the Critchlows.

One of the key allegations against the couple is that the Ogden woman paid Erin Critchlow $300,000 for a parcel of land on the couple's residential lot. The documents transferred the property to the woman and Erin Critchlow as joint tenants with a right of survivorship, meaning the land would go to Erin Critchlow upon the woman's death. The woman told police she agreed to buy the land because the couple needed money and she wanted to help, but police said the sale provided no benefit to the woman.

There are "striking similarities" in the two cases, the county filing said. Both women were elderly, blind and had minimal family support, both involved a questionable land conveyance, and both had been clients of Critchlow's father, Bill Critchlow, the filing said. The evidence from the 1990s matter therefore "is highly probative on these issues of intent and plan" and should be allowed at trial, the county asserted.

In September, attorneys for the Critchlows subpoenaed the testimony of an assistant Utah attorney general who Charles Critchlow said "successfully defended" against the allegations lodged in the 1990s civil suit and could testify to the credibility of Critchlow's position.

However, that state attorney earlier this month filed a motion to quash the subpoena, saying, "I have no information or memory of the events that appear related" to Critchlow's arguments.

Because of the pretrial motions, a planned jury trial for the Critchlows, originally set for the end of this month and into December, has been rescheduled for August 2023.

Meanwhile, attorneys will meet in court on Dec. 21 to take the testimony of the elderly woman in the case. The "preservation of testimony" motion is necessary because the woman recently had been experiencing health problems, the prosecution said.

The couple's dealings with the woman came to the attention of police when Critchlow and the woman tried to withdraw $800,000 from her investment account and the company flagged the attempt as suspicious.

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