Garfield County repeat offender flees from police on purpose
By Robert Green
CENTERFIELD—Possessing romantic notions of crime, one man is finally living his life behind bars in a Utah State Prison after leading police on a high-speed chase.
Anthony Fisher Forner, 21, Antimony, Garfield County, has been arrested three times in less than two years for stealing vehicles and joyriding on public highways in “hopes of being caught and thrown back in jail,” court records show.
His wish came true on Wednesday, May 2 when he stole a truck from his custodian, friend and employer, Ole Lindgren of Antimony.
Forner pleaded guilty on Monday, May 14 to failure to stop or respond at the command of police, a third-degree felony, and sentenced to a term not to exceed five years at a Utah State Prison. He is serving there now. He also pleaded guilty to reckless driving, a Class B misdemeanor.
This was his third offense for a similar crime. He was given a reprieve on the first two offenses and allowed to work at Lindgren’s ranch as a condition of private probation, with hopes that he could turn his life around.
But Forner grew restless. While working on the ranch in early November of 2017, Forner stole the ranch truck and drove it to Cedar City, where he was arrested for driving a stolen vehicle. The arresting officer said that Forner admitted to stealing the vehicle because he was tired of small town life and needed to get away.
Lindgren then wrote a letter to Judge Keith Barnes on Nov. 17, 2017, asking for leniency: “Tony is diagnosed autistic with active Asperger’s Syndrome. He operates with the mentality of a 12-year old.
His parents and those involved felt it in his best interest to enroll him in an apprenticeship to learn to train horses and to do ranch work instead of going to jail. Thus he came to my ranch.”
Lindgren wrote he has been Tony’s primary caregiver for about two years and that he is the person best prepared to comment on his state of mind:
“With little more than six months remaining on his probation, Tony began to express how difficult it is to work in the real world. He referred to the 10 days that he spent in the county jail as the ‘highlight’ of his life. He romanticized of his time rubbing shoulders with authentic criminals.
Tony fantasized about three-hour showers and the long naps he took in jail. ‘It was my dream life.’ Tony said. ‘I watched TV, read books all day, took long showers and slept as much as I wanted.’”
Tony confessed to Lindgren that he took the ranch truck and drove straight for Cedar City in hopes of being thrown back in jail to live the easy life.
Lindgren recommended the court offer Tony a double or nothing opportunity. Impose the maximum penalty, suspend it and warn him that if he returns to the courtroom for any reason, he will face the full extent of the law.
On Jan. 25, Forner pleaded guilty to attempted theft, a third-degree felony, and was released to the custody of Lindgren and placed on probation for 36 months.
But Forner violated his terms of probation on Wednesday, May 2 when he decided to steal Lindgren’s Dodge pickup and drive north. In the town of Centerfield, he drove pass Officer Seth Hendrickson of the Gunnison Valley Police Department. The truck did not have any rear-facing taillights at all, Hendrickson reported in a probable cause statement.
When Henrickson engaged his lights and siren, Forner took off and led police on high speed chase exceeding 100 mph into the town of Gunnison. A witness said the vehicles came swerving through Gunnisons’s downtown Main Street at a serious clip and the truck looked awkward as it skirted around other drivers.
Forner then drove north on SR 28 for 44 miles until the pickup conked-out at Center Street and Main Street in Nephi. Along the way, Hendrickson heard from dispatch that the pickup was stolen. Multiple agencies assisted in the high speed pursuit, including the Sanpete County Sheriff’s Office, Juab County Sheriff’s Office, Nephi Police Department and the Utah Highway Patrol.
“No regard was given to traffic control devices, lane travel, oncoming traffic or human life,” Hendrickson stated. “Collisions with oncoming traffic were only avoided by evasive maneuvering by the oncoming.”
Hendrickson interviewed the suspect, who admitted that he stole the truck from Lindgren and intentionally ran from police when confronted. He also told Officer Hendrickson that he forged one of Lindgren’s checks that he found in the truck; and wrote out a $70 payable to a man he met at Love’s gas station in return for 20 gallons of fuel.
Forner pleaded guilty to the charges with knowledge he would go to prison, said his defense attorney, Sanpete County public defender David Angerhofer. Forner seemed fully aware and capable of assisting in his own defense, Angerhofer said.
Lesser charges of speeding, driving without tail lights and driving without a driver license have been dismissed.
After three-strikes, Forner has agreed on prison. He now has time to find out if serving as offender No. 236437 at the Central Utah Correctional Facility does indeed make a dream life.