State veterinarian resigns after investigation

OGDEN, Utah (AP) — Utah’s chief state veterinarian has resigned after an investigation into a former employee’s allegations he padded his pockets with work on the side and engaged in other questionable practices.

Bruce King, who oversaw meat packing, slaughter and livestock inspections statewide, has ended a 15-year tenure with the Utah Department of Agriculture and Food. His resignation took effect June 1.

Ex-employee Wyatt Frampton detailed his allegations in a letter to the governor’s office in late March, prompting a two-month investigation by state auditors, the Standard-Examiner of Ogden reported.

Among other things, King was accused of making at least $2,000 a month extra by landing a contract to provide veterinary services at the Gunnison state prison’s wild horse ranch. His annual salary was $96,000 at the time.

He also was accused of essentially having a free car and free gas during his entire tenure with the department. He refused to move to Salt Lake City when he was appointed assistant state veterinarian in 2006 and when he was named state veterinarian in 2011, opting to commute with his state car and state credit card for fuel, Frampton said.

Phone calls to King’s home in Axtell near Gunnison weren’t immediately returned.

A bill signed into law by Gov. Gary Herbert earlier this year forbids the state veterinarian from engaging in the private practice of veterinary medicine.

“They’re not supposed to be competing with people they oversee,” the bill’s sponsor, Rep. Ronda Menlove, R-Garland, told the Standard-Examiner.

Menlove, the agriculture department and the governor’s office declined comment on King’s resignation, citing privacy laws on personnel matters.

Frampton was one of three field veterinarians in the agriculture department’s Salt Lake City office supervised by King. He was fired in September over disagreements with another supervisor, he said.

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