Shurtleff responds to charges; Reyes comments on former AGs’ arrests

SALT LAKE CITY – Following his arrest and pretrial release from jail, Tuesday, former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff held a press conference in which he railed against Salt Lake District County Attorney Sim Gill. He called his arrest unnecessary and the charges against him politically motivated.

The charges of criminal wrongdoing are completely false,” Shurtleff said.

Shurtleff faces 10 felony counts related to a pattern of unlawful activity, receiving or soliciting bribes, tampering with a witness, tampering with evidence, accepting gifts while being prohibited to do so, and accepting employment that would impair his judgment.

The charges stem from an mutli-agency investigation involving the Salt Lake District County and Davis County Attorney’s offices, the Utah Department of Public Safety and FBI into multiple allegations of corruption against Shurtleff and his successor, former Attorney General John Swallow.

Mark Shurtleff | Photos courtesy of Salt Lake County, St. George News
Mark Shurtleff | Photos courtesy of Salt Lake County, St. George News

After two years of being tried in the media, he said, he welcomes the chance to take the fight to court.

He has confidence in the justice system, Shurtleff said, having worked in it for much of his professional career, yet he did not have confidence in Gill leading a fair-minded investigation.

Gill is running for a second term as the district county attorney, and with it being an election year, bringing charges against Shurtleff and Swallow serves his political aspirations, Shurtleff said.

He also called the issue of his arrest a “political sideshow” arranged by Gill and others involved in the investigation against him.

Shurtleff also said elements of the investigations were leaked to the media by Gill in order to add to the frenzy.

He has fully-cooperated with investigators since 2007 when issues initially arose, he said. When Jeremy Johnson originally came to him with allegations against Swallow, who was his chief deputy attorney general at the time, Shurtleff said he took those allegations to the FBI and cooperated with their investigation and questioning accordingly.

As previously noted by Shurtleff, the Department of Justice ultimately dropped its investigation against Swallow and himself.

The Department of Justice’s agenda must not be political,” Shurtleff said, and then went after county and state-based agencies once more.

He again accused Gill’s motives behind the investigation and resulting charges to be politically driven. He also accused the FBI field office and Utah Department of Public Safety of the same due to the roles they played in the investigation.

Utah DPS and the FBI could have interviewed dozens of people who could have helped prove his innocence, Shurtleff said, yet supposedly neither agency did.

During his time as the attorney general, Shurtlefff said he never intentionally violated the code of ethics, or committed a crime, as the investigation contends.

“I am excited to go forward,” he said, adding he believes Gill’s investigation can’t prove many elements of the charges against him “beyond the shadow of a doubt” in court.

Swallow has also maintained his innocence throughout the many investigations into alleged ethical misconduct and corruption. Last year Swallow resigned as attorney general, citing the financial and emotional strain the investigations were putting on his family.

Public officials have continued to respond in the wake of Shurtleff and Swallow’s arrest Tuesday morning. Attorney General Sean Reyes, who was appointed by the governor following Swallow’s resignation, issued the following statement:

This is a difficult day in the long and distinguished history of the office of the Utah Attorney General. Sadly, two men who served as leaders of our office have been charged with crimes alleged to have taken place during their administrations. I do not prejudge them and fully recognize that every defendant is entitled to the presumption of innocence. Neither do I defend or condone any of the alleged conduct. I have faith in our judicial system and confidence that, ultimately, justice will be served. I encourage the public to have patience and confidence in the process as well.

While our office will continue to cooperate with agencies investigating and prosecuting these cases, my chief concern today is to recognize the hundreds of outstanding public servants who work as attorneys, staff, and investigators in the Utah Attorney General’s Office. Each is diligently working to do the people’s business with excellence and great professionalism. They could be earning much higher salaries in the private sector but choose to serve the people of Utah, often without the positive acknowledgment they deserve. The House Special Investigators took great care to recognize and draw distinction between the professionals in the Utah Attorney General’s Office and any allegations or conclusions regarding former office-holders.

Since my appointment in late December, my new executive team and many respected leaders throughout our office have worked unceasingly to create a culture change and restore public trust. Today, the Utah Attorney General’s Office has new and renewed leadership teams throughout the Criminal, Civil and Appellate Departments. Divisions and sections have been refocused and even reorganized based on exhaustive research and careful assessment. The professionals on our team will continue to roll up our sleeves, stay hard at work, and defend the laws of our state while protecting Utah citizens and businesses against violent crime and white collar fraud.

Despite strong and differing opinions, and valid disagreement regarding important cases we are handling on behalf of the State, one area where all Utahns can agree is the need for the highest level of integrity in public service. We have and will continue to implement policies, protocols, and practices that demand such an elevated standard for the Attorney General’s Office.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2014, all rights reserved.

 

 

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9 Comments

  • ladybugavenger July 15, 2014 at 6:50 pm

    Oh come on, you want me to believe these are false allegations for Gill’s political gain. I believe the allegations are true and sure it might be a gain politically for Gill but your still guilty until proven innocent like like the rest of us little people. Vote for Gill

  • My Evil Twin July 15, 2014 at 8:02 pm

    Gill never met a TV camera that he did not love. No big deal, still he’s a pretty good DCA for Salt Lake County.

  • Dana July 16, 2014 at 5:55 am

    Shurtleff is talking a lot these days. Hmmmm….trying to taint the jury pool? Playing victim? What a weenie. Next, he’ll use the “sick” card.

    • scatter brain July 16, 2014 at 10:45 am

      He is trying to make his church friends feel sorry for him. When does he turn in his temple recommend?

  • MrSmith July 16, 2014 at 9:18 am

    There’s a new Sherriff in town. Time to clean up this dirty town.

  • scatter brain July 16, 2014 at 10:11 am

    I feel sorry for both of them. I mean if they have done what is being accused of them, then I would like to see them go to jail. I think jail would be the only acceptable punishment as we need to make an example of the people who claim to serve the public. I feel sorry for them because I really think they thought the political ties, church affiliation, and their popularity means they have a free ride in this state.

  • EL JEFE July 16, 2014 at 10:18 am

    I think both Shurtleff and Swallow are upset that they didn’t think of the “computer crashing/lost e-mails” defense when the investigation was in its infancy. Seems to work for the IRS.

  • sing4money July 16, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    I really wish that they would just take responsibility. It is so tiresome to keep hearing accused people say over and over “I didn’t do anything wrong”. Yes, Shurtleff you did…. it was wrong to vacation at the home of someone your office was investigating. You must think the people of Utah are stupid. It was your own text messages that a former friend/collegue tried to warn you. That was wrong. It was illegal. It was bribery. You knew John Swallow was no good for The People of Utah and yet you still helped him get into office! That was wrong. For God sakes…stop saying “I didn’t do anything wrong”. Stop with thanking your friends and neighbors for standing by you. You are most embarrassing and setting a horrible example for your kids. Just come clean. But you wont. So off to jail and I hope when you are at your sentencing hearing, and you find God and the truth (cuz we all know you will eventually admit to your crimes) you will remember that sing4money told you to do what many are too proud to do……just admit it and take your punishment. You will score far more points this way than asking us to accept your lies. You might even be able to keep the respect of your children.

  • Marsha July 16, 2014 at 9:04 pm

    I can’t stand dishonest lawyers. I had one.
    They need to tighten the Utah Law on dishonest Lawyers .
    How much is this going to cost the State of Utah ? More Lawyer fees .
    Wake up Utah !

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