Our View: Onus on ex-AGs’ prosecutors

Wednesday , July 16, 2014 - 2:16 PM

Editorial Board

One can almost hear the exclamations of satisfaction Tuesday morning when ex-Utah attorney generals John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff were arrested and charged with a whole bucket load of felonies. However, the onus of these cases has shifted to the prosecution. One comment after our website’s article on the case is worth noting here. “It’d be well to keep in mind that arrest and charging are not the equivalent of conviction. Neither has confessed and neither has yet been convicted.”

At the very least, the lack of ethics displayed by Swallow and Shurtleff is mind-boggling. They will forever remain the epitome of corruption, dirty money, unethical interests and special favors. They have dishonored themselves and disgraced our state. Whether their abominable behavior extends to both donning prison uniforms will ultimately be decided in court.

A tremendous amount of responsibility hangs on Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, as well as Davis County District Attorney Troy Rawlings. They actively pursued a criminal case after the Department of Justice had declined to prosecute. We believe that was the right call by our Utah prosecutors, but a strong case must be prepared. If the ensuing prosecution of Swallow and Shurtleff proves weaker than what has been advertised, the professional reputations of Gill, Rawlings and others will be damaged. In summary, it’s put up time for the prosecution.

Many of the charges — which cover a long time period — against the ex-AGs involve lavish gifts and other accommodations from jailed businessmen Jeremy Johnson and Marc Sessions Jenson. Stays in villas, on houseboats, in private jets, visits in luxury homes serve as backdrops to the cases. Accusations of money-grubbing, influence-peddling, and even Swallow accepting gold coins from a now-deceased payday loan businessman, are included. The charges, and prosecutors hint there may be more, will keep this case high-profile until its conclusion.

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