Former Utah AGs booked and released

Wednesday , July 16, 2014 - 9:58 AM

By MICHELLE PRICE The Associated Press and CIMARON NEUGEBAUER Standard-Examiner staff

SALT LAKE CITY — Two former Attorney Generals for Utah were booked and released from the Salt Lake County jail, according to jail personnel.

They did not have to pay the $250,000 bond originally requested by the courts, according to the jail processing attendant. It was not disclosed how long the two former top cops actually spent in the jail before being released. They were allowed to leave on a pretrial release.

Utah Department of Public Safety Capt.Doug McCleave said neither man received special treatment and anyone facing these sort of charges would be dealt with in the same manner.

“It was consistent with what we would normally do, for someone looking at these kinds of charges,” McCleave told the Standard-Examiner adding that all the key stake holders and prosecutors in the case met to decide the court of action and vet it out.

This morning authorities arrested and charged two former Utah attorneys general who were targets of a bribery probe that stemmed from their cozy relationships with several businessmen during their time in office.

In May of 2012, the Utah Department of Public Safety (DPS), State Bureau of Investigation (SBI) was asked by representatives in the Utah Attorney General's Office to conduct a criminal investigation into the alleged criminal activity of Timothy Lawson, according to a DPS statement issued on Tuesday. “Lawson's activities appeared to be related to the investigation of Marc Jenson by the Attorney General's office.“ 

The case was turned over to DPS because of a potential conflict of interest between Marc Jenson, Timothy Lawson and Attorney General Mark Shurtleff. 

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff were taken into custody Tuesday.

Salt Lake County Jail records show John Swallow was booked Tuesday on four felony charges, including receiving or soliciting a bribe and misusing public money. Shurtleff was booked on four felony charges, three of which were bribery-related. Two of Swallow’s charges and all four of Shurtleff’s charges each come with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.

Shurtleff has been charged with 10 counts of second or third-degree felony charges, according to court documents. The charges range from bribery, accepting gifts when prohibited, improper use of employee’s position, tampering with a witness or evidence and obstructing justice.

Prosecutors charged Swallow with more counts, but some were misdemeanors. He was charged with 13 counts, 11 of those were either second or third-degree felonies. The charges range from misuse of public money, falsifying government records, receive or solicit bribery. Tampering with evidence, providing false or inconsistent material statements to investigators and failure to disclose a conflict of interest.

Swallow and Shurtleff’s attorneys did not answer after-hours calls Tuesday morning.

The arrests come more than 14 months after county prosecutors started scrutinizing Shurtleff and Swallow’s relationships with businessmen, including allegations of a chain of favors, campaign donations and gifts such as spa vacations and use of a private jet and luxury houseboat.

Swallow resigned in late 2013 after spending nearly 11 months dogged by allegations of murky dealings with questionable businessmen and employing underhanded campaign tactics in 2012.

At a nearly half-hour news conference announcing his decision, Swallow adamantly denied breaking any laws and said the toll of the scrutiny had become too much for him and his family.

The first bombshell allegations dropped less than a week after Swallow took the oath of office in January 2013, when a businessman in trouble with federal regulators accused Swallow of arranging a bribery plot involving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.

Reid and Swallow denied the allegations.

In the months following, the accusations and investigations snowballed, and led to probes by the U.S. Department of Justice, Utah elections officials and the state bar.

An investigation from Utah lawmakers concluded Swallow destroyed and fabricated records and hung a veritable “for sale” sign on the door of the attorney general’s office.

Swallow denied the allegations and said any missing records were deleted unintentionally.

Shurtleff, his predecessor, is Utah’s longest-serving attorney general and left the office in early 2013 after a dozen years as the state’s chief law enforcement officer.

When he decided not to seek a fourth term, he accepted a job with a large Washington, D.C., law firm.

He left the job six months later after one businessman claimed that four years earlier, Shurtleff had offered him $2 million if he stopped trying to find a suspected swindler.

That came on the heels of a jailed businessman’s claims that he paid for meals, golf and massages for Shurtleff and Swallow at a Newport Beach resort months after the Utah attorney general’s office charged him with fraud.

Shurtleff and Swallow denied the allegations, and Shurtleff said they played no role in his decision to leave the Washington firm.

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