SALT LAKE CITY — Though former Salt Lake County Recorder Gary Ott died last month, a new legal fight between his family and his former employee and girlfriend has begun.
Karmen Sanone, who has also been identified as Ott's fiancee, wife, caregiver and longtime friend, has filed an objection to the appointment of Ott's sister, Kathy Chamberlain, to manage the late recorder's estate, arguing "she has priority for appointment as the wife of (Ott)," according to court documents.
Sanone has also filed a petition to recognize her relationship with Ott as a common-law marriage, which is pending in 2nd District Court, court documents state.
Sanone's attorney, Scott Hansen, declined to comment, citing pending litigation.
Ott's family's attorney, Mary Corporon, said her clients plan to file an objection to Sanone's petition.
"My clients will be pursuing the claim that they are the proper personal representatives of (Ott's) estate," said Corporon, who is also Ott's ex-wife.
She declined to comment on the value of Ott's estate.
A hearing has been scheduled on Nov. 29 in 3rd District Court to address Sanone's objection.
Sanone and Ott's siblings were locked in a monthslong legal battle prior to the recorder's death over who should be his guardian and financial conservator. However, the matter was rendered moot when Ott died Oct. 19 after succumbing to Alzheimer's disease at the age of 66.
Ott's health struggles made headlines over the past 1 1/2 years as county employees expressed concerns about his well-being and alleged that Sanone and his former deputy, Julie Dole, had been hiding his condition so they could remain in their appointed positions. Both women continue to deny those allegations.
Sanone's relationship with Ott also raised allegations of nepotism and prompted Salt Lake County officials to review the county's nepotism ordinance.
In past court documents, police reports and social media posts, Sanone has been identified as Ott's fiancee, girlfriend or wife, though the Deseret News has not been able to locate a marriage certificate on file for Sanone and Ott.
At the time she was a county employee, Sanone refused to comment about her relationship with Ott, calling the matter her "personal life."
Later, in court hearings during the legal dispute with Ott's family, Sanone's attorney refered to her as Ott's caregiver and significant other.
It also eventually became apparent through court testimony that Ott was living with Sanone on her rural property in Weber County, according to court testimony, though he legally owned a home in Salt Lake City — the residence rooting him to his elected district.
In a May interview, Sanone insisted that Ott lived in his elected district and that he only visited her home.
“He still maintains a residence there. He still lives there. All his belongings are there,” she told the Deseret News at the time.
In Utah, residents can petition the court to recognize their relationship as a common-law marriage even though partners never had a marriage ceremony. If the court approves, the partners will be considered to have been married since the time certain conditions were met.
Those conditions include being of legal age and capable of giving consent; being legally capable of entering a solemnized marriage; having lived together; treating each other as though they are married; and presenting themselves to the public so other people believe they're married, according to the Utah courts website.