Left to right: booking photos for Kent L. Nyman and Lonnie K. Nyman (Courtesy: Cache County Jail).
LOGAN — The former owners of a Logan funeral home accused of stealing money from their customers appeared again in court, as prosecutors asked a judge to move the case forward despite COVID-19 restrictions. Kent L. Nyman, a 73-year-old Providence man and his son, 46-year-old Lonnie K. Nyman, are accused of illegally selling pre-paid funeral trust accounts and using the money for their own purchases.
Both men participated in a virtual hearing in 1st District Court Wednesday morning, appearing by web conference. They had previously been charged with a pattern of unlawful activity, unlawful dealing with property by fiduciary, and communications fraud, all second-degree felonies. Additionally, Lonnie Nyman was charged with theft by deception and financial exploitation of a vulnerable adult, also second-degree felonies.
The case has been delayed for almost a year due to coronavirus regulations that prohibit in-person court hearings.
Ryan Holtan from the State Attorney General’s Office asked the court to consider approving an in-person preliminary hearing so the case could move forward. He noted that there were more than 110 alleged victims, some elderly who have passed away since the investigation began.
Holtan said, “Some of these people are dying and they just want to see this case move forward.”
Defense attorney Scott Williams said he recognized that the victim’s rights are being stressed by the pandemic. He noted though, the Nyman’s rights to a speedy trial have also been violated. He explained that their ability to defend the allegations would be difficult in a virtual preliminary hearing, where testimony and cross-examination would be limited.
Judge Angela Fonnesbeck explained that Cache County is still in a “red phase,” prohibiting in-person hearings except in exigent circumstances. She said though, given the volume of exhibits and alleged victims, the case could fall into that exception.
Judge Fonnesbeck agreed it was critical to move the case forward and asked the attorneys to work out how an in-person hearing would be conducted with limited attendees in the courtroom. She scheduled another hearing for Feb. 2 to work out the details.
According to prosecutors, the Nymans sold contracts for pre-need funeral plans totaling more than $775,000. Instead of placing the funds in trust accounts as required by law, the money was deposited into two bank accounts, used for operating expenses.
Investigators also claim, records showed both suspects used the funds to buy personal items. The purchases were made at fast food restaurants, sporting goods stores, as well as payments toward personal credit card balances.
Both men could each face up to 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Lonnie Nyman is currently in prison after being convicted of trying to have sex with a teenage boy and other crimes. He was originally arrested in October 2018 after family members found photos of the boy on his computer tablet. He later accepted a plea deal and was ordered to serve two consecutive terms of 1-to-15-years.