SALT LAKE CITY – Former Utah Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow were arrested Tuesday morning on multiple felony counts stemming from a multi-agency investigation into allegations of corruption.
Utah media reported Tuesday morning that both men were arrested at their homes and booked into jail. Their arrest follows a month after warrant searches were conducted at their homes in June. The searches were conducted by the FBI and Utah Department of Public Safety as a part of an ongoing investigation by the Salt Lake and Davis county attorney’s offices.
The arrests themselves were reported as being uneventful.
During a press conference held Tuesday morning, Sim Gill, Salt Lake District County Attorney, read off the lists of charges that include five second-degree felonies, six third-degree felonies, and two class-B misdemeanors for Swallow, and seven second-degree felonies and three third-degree felonies for Shurtleff.
Charges for both are related to allegations of patterns of unlawful activity, soliciting or accepting bribes, accepting gifts where prohibited, tampering with evidence, among other counts tied to suspected corruption.
Bail for each of the men was set at $250,000, Gill said. Both men have since been allowed to leave the jail on pretrial release.
A minimum of charges based on the investigation’s findings are what the former attorneys general have been hit with, Gill said. There is the possibility that, as the investigation continues, additional charges could be added.
Accusations against the two men come from a number of sources, including federally-indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, convicted businessman Marc Jensen, and findings made during other investigations.
Agent Mary Rook, of the FBI’s Salt Lake City field office, said in the press conference that the arrests come after a two-year investigation. The FBI’s investigation into Swallow and Shurtleff would ultimately join with the overall investigations being conducted by the Salt Lake and Davis County, as well as the Utah Department of Public Safety.
Rook said there was some speculation why the FBI continued looking into the two men while the Department of Justice dropped its own investigation.
“Our primary goal is the pursuit of justice,” she said, and “the investigation of public corruption is one the FBI’s highest priorities.”
To this end the FBI will use the means available to it in pursuit of its goals, Rook said. In this case, those means were the county attorney investigations.
The FBI investigation remains active, Gill said.
During the press conference, Gill thanked the hard work of all the agencies involved, as well as the investigations by the Utah House of Representatives and the Lt. Governor’s Office into Swallow’s alleged misconduct.
“This has been a large, nuanced and complex investigation,” Gill said.
As for the public’s trust in public offices, Gill asked people not to indict an entire system based on the actions of two people.
In the case of Swallow, Gill said, he could face up to 30 years in prison if convicted. However, he also stressed that both Swallow and Shurtleff are presumed innocent until proven otherwise.
Gov. Gary Herbert issued the following statement in the wake of the arrests:
This is a sad day for Utah. The entire situation, regardless of how the legal process plays out, is a black eye for our state. While we respect the rule of law and due process, this serves as a reminder that nobody is above the law and, if anything, public servants must be held to a higher standard.
State Sen. James Dabakis also issued a statement:
Former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff have been arrested. It is a day of great sorrow and shame for Utah.
But, the problem remains. ‘Pay for Play’ is still the name of the game, it is the heart of the problem. And nothing has changed.
Utah still has no limits on contributions to campaigns! This needs to end. If the arrest of two Attorneys General does not motivate such a change–it is hard to understand what will.
In Utah, no amount of money from PACs, Corporations, Labor Unions or special interests is too much. No amount of contributions from people or corporations doing business with the state is too much. Utah is only one of three states with such a gaping hole in campaign contributions.
It is a disappointment that the multimillion dollar Dunnigan Special Committee avoided serious solutions to the broader issue by failing to recommend serious campaign finance reform. Unfortunately, so far, the ‘honey pot’ cash allure of unlimited tainted money is greater then staying clear of, at least, the appearance of conflict.
Ed. Note: Details surrounding Swallow and Shurtleff’s release from jail have been corrected.
- On the EDge: Shurtleff finds the shoe on the other foot
- Shurtleff claims ‘horrific police abuse,’ DPS says proper procedure followed
- House committee releases Swallow report; names of Sens. Lee, Reid appear in county attorneys’ investigation
- House probe into former Attorney General John Swallow releases findings
- Swallow resigns, says Utah House drove him from office
- Attorney general’s office, House committee make deal on records; new subpoenas issued
- Swallow denies deleting documents, fires back at committee
- Utah State Bar drops ethical misconduct complaint agaisnt Swallow
- Department of Justice declines to prosecute Swallow
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