Federal prosecutors spent millions of dollars trying to make crooks out of Utah’s Olympic quarterbacks and on Thursday they got some of it back: $225. The money was collected from Utah businessman David Simmons and Alfredo La Mont of Colorado – their price for filing false tax returns, pleading guilty and becoming witnesses in the failed prosecution of bid leaders Tom Welch and Dave Johnson. No fines. No prison. No probation. Just the mandatory payments to the victims compensation fund – $25 from Simmons and $200 from La Mont.
Linda Fantin writes in the Salt Lake Tribune, “So ends the most celebrated fraud case in Utah’s history, the final footnote to the five-year ordeal that revealed the underbelly of the Olympic bid process, bludgeoned the state’s reputation and tainted its biggest achievement since the pioneers crossed the plains. The 2002 Winter Games themselves were a huge success. The two men accused of using bribery to get them eventually were acquitted and transformed into cult heroes by a grateful public. Richard Wiedis, the lead prosecutor in the case, received a promotion. And Simmons and La Mont? They will be remembered forever as the only ones convicted of any crimes.”