SALT LAKE CITY -- A convicted fraudster says he provided gifts to the current and former Utah attorneys general in exchange for a promise of help with his legal problems.
Marc Jenson said he paid for meals, golf and massages for Attorney General John Swallow and former attorney general Mark Shurtleff at a Newport Beach villa in the summer of 2009, The Salt Lake Tribune reports. The Utah attorney general's office had charged him with felonies months earlier and reached a plea deal with him.
Jenson said that in exchange, Shurtleff and Swallow would help him get out of further legal trouble. Shurtleff was the attorney general at the time, while Swallow was a private attorney helping raise funds for Shurtleff.
"They were extorting me," Jenson told The Salt Lake Tribune in an interview from prison where he is serving a sentence for failing to pay $4 million back to investors.
Prosecutors say it is the latest in a series of fraudulent dealings in Jenson's career. The California native made money making short-term, high-interest loans to businesses while they were trying to get long-term financing.
Swallow and Shurtleff deny they did anything wrong.
Shurtleff said he went to the villa on the invitation of a longtime family friend, Tim Lawson. Shurtleff went to work on a book and recoup from a motorcycle accident and was told everything was being paid for by Lawson.
Jenson said he was paying Lawson sums of money to repair his relationship with Shurtleff. Lawson denies that, telling the Tribune that he was hired by Jenson to keep investors happy until Jenson could pay them.
Shurtleff, who left the office in January after 12 years and now works for a Washington-based law firm, said he had no intention of helping Jenson. He said he always said the same thing to Jenson: If he didn't pay back about $4 million in money owed from his charges, he would go to prison.
That's what happened in 2011 when Jenson was sentenced to 10 years. Shurtleff said by phone that Jenson is out for revenge.
"This is absolute malarkey," Shurtleff said. "He's a liar. There should be no credence given to his allegations."
Swallow met Jenson while coaching Jenson's nephew and went to the resort while he was still a private attorney, said his spokesman Paul Murphy. Though he was helping Shurtleff with fundraising at the time and was only months away from chief deputy attorney general in December 2009, Murphy said he never promised to help Jenson.
Murphy said Swallow walled himself from Jenson's investigation in summer of 2011 when it came back up at the attorney general's office.
These are the latest in a series of accusations of misconduct leveled against Swallow, and to a lesser extent, Shurtleff.
Earlier this week, a former director of the Utah Division of Consumer Protection filed a complaint against Swallow, claiming he violated attorney-client standards in conversations with a business owner cited for breaking telemarketing laws. It was the second complaint lodged this year with the state bar against Swallow.
The U.S. Justice Department is investigating allegations leveled by another convicted fraudster, Jeremy Johnson, against Swallow that the attorney general was part of a bribery scheme that failed to derail an investigation of Johnson's Internet companies.