White-Collar Crime

Two former Utah attorneys general are charged in bribery case

Two men who each formerly served as Utah’s top law enforcement official were arrested Tuesday and charged with bribery.

Former Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff, 56, and the Republican he helped select as his successor, John Swallow, 51, were charged with multiple felonies before being released, according to the Salt Lake City Tribune. Although bond was set at $250,000 each, the two were released under a supervision program that did not require them to post bail. The case was filed in 3rd District Court in Salt Lake City.

Both Shurtleff, who served for a dozen years, and Swallow, who resigned in December after less than a year in office, are accused of receiving or soliciting bribes, evidence tampering and participating in a pattern of unlawful conduct. The newspaper provides copies of the charging information against Shurtleff and Swallow.

The two men insist they are innocent of any criminal wrongdoing, and Shurtleff’s lawyer, Max Wheeler, contends that the case brought by a Democratic state district attorney is politically motivated, the Tribune reports.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said he was “very disappointed” with the U.S. Department of Justice and suggested that his office stepped up to the plate when the feds failed to do so, the article continues.

After “a complex, nuanced, multiple investigation” that is still ongoing, “we have filed what we think are appropriate and minimal charges,” Gill said. “We could have filed more, but we chose at this time to just file what we did.”

Mary Rook, who serves as special agent in charge of the local FBI office, said investigating public corruption “is one of the FBI’s highest priorities,” KSL reports.

Court filings say both Shurtleff and Swallow accepted hundreds of thousands of dollars worth of illegal gifts and campaign contributions from individuals seeking favorable treatment from the state in legal matters, the Washington Post (reg. req.) reports.

The alleged gifts included staying in the homes of two businessmen, one of whom is now indicted and the other in jail, reports the Tribune.

Shurtleff also is accused of and going against the wishes of his prosecutors in dismissing a mortgage fraud lawsuit against a major bank at the same time he was negotiating to get a job with a law firm for whom the bank was a major client.

Additional and related coverage:

ABAJournal.com: “Former Utah AG resigns from new job at Troutman Sanders, cites ‘just too hard’ commute and schedule”

Salt Lake Tribune: “Utah leaders react to arrests: From ‘sad day’ to step to restoring public trust”

Associated Press: “Prosecutor: Two ex-Utah attorneys general arrested”

Reuters: “Two former Utah attorneys general charged with corruption”

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