OGDEN — A defendant in a $1.1 billion fraud case wants to go free on bail because he asserts he is being treated “ineffectively” for serious health conditions in the Weber County Jail.
Isaiah Kingston, 38, has been held in the Ogden jail since August after his indictment as one of three defendants in an alleged scheme to defraud the federal government of hundreds of millions in renewable energy tax credits.
In a Dec. 31 motion seeking a new detention hearing at U.S. District Court in Salt Lake City, an attorney for Kingston, Scott Williams, said the inmate “suffers serious and debilitating health problems due to his diagnosis of cancer, and especially his serious ulcerative colitis.”
Williams said the court already knew Kingston had health trouble, but “what was not known was how ineffectively it would be treated and managed by his detention facility, and how worsening and debilitating it would become.”
Williams said Kingston is not being allowed to follow an effective course of medication he was receiving before his arrest.
Kingston’s symptoms have worsened daily and he has lost more than 25 pounds, Williams said. The attorney said he’s now worried Kingston can no longer effectively participate in his defense.
In a response filed Thursday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office agreed Kingston needs to receive adequate care while detained pre-trial.
The prosecutor’s office said the jail was unable to provide medical information on the inmate due to federal health privacy law.
But it said the U.S. Marshals’ Service — which houses Kingston in the county jail via contract — reports the jail is addressing his needs and he is seeing a doctor several times a month.
Prosecutors said the judge has the option to request Kingston’s medical records from the jail via the Marshals’ Service.
Policies in Weber County’s jail and many other local jails often restrict inmates from receiving medications not prescribed by jail doctors. Inmates also most often are cared for by the jail’s doctors and nursing staffs, not outside providers.
Jail health care policies and procedures were reviewed last fall by a state workgroup that was formed after Utah’s jails in recent years experienced more frequent instances of dangerous drug withdrawals, suicide, and other medical problems.
The workgroup urged the 2019 Legislature to give county jails more help to provide medical care to inmates.
Kingston’s medical woes were just one of several arguments made by Williams in the bid for letting his client out on bail pending trial.
Williams argued new evidence shows that Kingston was no more than a bit player in the alleged fraud scheme. Kingston was a co-founder of Washakie Renewable Energy and its chief financial officer.
Williams said others made most of the decisions at issue and that Kingston lacked “meaningful authority over or actual personal access to any of the money, regardless of what documents might exist with his name on them.”
But prosecutors responded on Thursday that they have evidence showing Kingston wired $52 million in fraud proceeds from Washakie’s accounts to accounts in Turkey.
Prosecutors also allege that a series of text messages between Kingston and a government informant show Kingston was involved in authorizing and paying for intimidation of witnesses.
Williams cast doubt on that informant, saying he has a vendetta against the Kingstons because they fired him from Washakie.
Kingston, his brother Jacob Kingston, and California and Turkish businessman Lev Arslan Dermen are all held without bail on charges including money laundering, fraud and filing false tax returns in a scheme to collect millions in false tax credits.
An indictment alleges they obtained $511 million, stashed some of it in Turkish investments, and planned to push the fraud to $1.1 billion.
Jacob Kingston, Washakie’s CEO, is jailed in Salt Lake County and Dermen is in the Davis County Jail.
Federal prosecutors say all three men are likely to flee to safe haven in Turkey if they are freed pending trial, because they could receive life prison sentences if convicted.