Criminal Justice

Utah legislators' report says former attorney general obstructed probe of himself

A five-month investigation by a state legislative committee reports that it has evidence that Utah’s attorney general, who resigned last month, feared he was the subject of a federal investigation and destroyed public records while fabricating news ones to cover his tracks.

Investigators for a Utah House of Representatives special committee detailed for its members a lengthy pattern of actions by now-former attorney general John Swallow that they say amounted to obstruction and a cover-up, the Salt Lake Tribune and City Weekly reported.

Swallow was appointed chief deputy attorney general in 2009 and won election to the top office in 2012. Investigators allege he began having his computer hard drives wiped clean and deleted an entire year’s worth of emails soon after a 2012 meeting with a former business acquaintance who had been indicated in a federal probe. That man, Jeremy Johnson, reportedly said at the meeting that Swallow, too, was an attractive target in the federal investigation.

Johnson and a business partner had paid $250,000 to Swallows’ former employer, the owner of a payday loan chain, to help them navigate the federal investigation. Some of that money went to Swallow, the investigators said.

Swallow resigned the day after the AG’s office computer technician swore in an affidavit that Swallow could not have lost emails when the state email system migrated in October 2012, and that they had to have been manually deleted, City Weekly reported.

Rod Snow, Swallow’s lawyer, said there are “innocent explanations” for his client’s actions and that the investigators are trying to justify the nearly $3 million cost of the investigation.

The U.S. Department of Justice closed its investigation of Swallow in September, and Swallow said his resignation two months later was because of legal defense costs.

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