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Craig Stagner of Stowell Crayk Speaks On Exitus Founder Charged With Misuse of Anti-trafficking Funds

Craig Stagner criminal defense lawyer

Felony Lawyer : Craig Stagner of Stowell Crayk On KUTV News 

SALT LAKE CITY (KUTV) — The founder of an anti-human trafficking organization is set to appear in court Tuesday afternoon after being charged with 31 felony counts for fraud, forgery, and theft. Craig Stanger is from Stowell Crayk where they practice criminal law with an experienced felony lawyer.

Candace Lierd

Candace Lierd, 37, also known as Candace Rivera, was charged Monday in the case surrounding her work at Lehi-based Exitus. She’s accused of using anti-trafficking funds for herself. KUTV 2 News has learned it’s not the first time Lierd has faced allegations of wrongdoing. She was charged several months ago in another felony case that’s still playing out. In May, prosecutors in Utah County filed one felony count of issuing a bad check or draft, after Lierd allegedly failed to pay a vendor who worked at one of her events.

Mark Tobian

Michael Tobian, owner of Utah Live Bands, told KUTV 2News Lierd “owed us about $8500 and wrote a bad check so I called the police on her.” Lierd is due in court again next week on that case, not to mention the nearly three dozen new counts she now faces. She has an initial appearance scheduled for Tuesday afternoon in Fourth District Court on the new charges.

Dave Wharton of Donut Star

Meanwhile, former financial backers of Exitus are reacting to the news. “It’s sort of shocking,” said Dave Wharton, owner of Donut Star. “I hate to say it, first thing going through your mind is how much of it was my money?” Wharton said he got involved with Exitus a few years ago and loved using donuts to help an organization he believed in. “We actually created a donut, and as we sold the donut, we donated half the proceeds to the Exitus foundation,” he told KUTV 2News.

But Wharton found out Monday that Lierd is in jail and facing criminal charges. “It’s sad to see that money that’s supposed to be going to help people isn’t going to help people,” he said. Craig Stanger, a former prosecutor, called it “disappointing” to see a story like this come out. He said the news about Lierd could hurt the very people Exitus sought to help. “Bringing stuff back up and seeing maybe that this group that may have helped you didn’t really live up to what they were supposed to can be traumatizing, I think,” said Stanger.

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