Prosecutors accuse feds of withholding evidence in Shurtleff case

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

SALT LAKE CITY – Prosecutors in the public corruption case against former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff accused the Department of Justice and the FBI of refusing to produce evidence related to the case. On Monday, they asked the court to order the federal agencies to hand over the evidence.

The state prosecutors aren’t the only party interests in the evidence – Shurtleff’s defense attorney also wants it. Just as one side believes there is evidence that could convict the former attorney general, the other side believes there is evidence that could exonerate him.

We’re not afraid of what’s out there; we want it, we want the discovery,” Shurtleff’s attorney Richard Van Wagoner said as reported by Fox 13 News. “For whatever reason, the federal government decided to push back.”

The Department of Justice’s Public Integrity Division previously investigated Shurtleff and his successor, John Swallow, yet ultimately shut down the investigation and declined to press any charges in Septemeber 2013.

In July, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings asked the DOJ to turn evidence from that case over to the state. However, the DOJ denied the request, stating it was too broad, and asked Rawlings to produce a more detailed summary of requested items so the federal agency could better evaluate the relevancy of the requested materials to the state’s case.

This didn’t sit well with Rawlings who, during a hearing Monday, asked 3rd District Judge Elizabeth A. Hruby-Mills to use the state’s authority over the case to force the DOJ to hand over the evidence.

In Rawling’s motion, he said the court shouldn’t allow the DOJ-PIN to “assert control” over the case by deciding what evidence is relevant and what isn’t. He also said that some of the materials requested “may possibly relate to the decisions within the DOJ-PIN, or to federal employees” that were made during the Justice Department’s prior investigation.

It is an investigation Rawling’s called “seemingly truncated and narrowly focused … with respect to a very constricted number of persons and events.”

If the Justice Department wants to control the evidence and take over the case, Rawlings added, “… they should step up to the plate and prosecute the matter themselves.”

Following the hearing, Van Wagoner suggested a reason the government may be withholding evidence is because it might implicate other people, Fox 13 reported.

“Without disclosing much, I have reason to believe that’s the case,” Van Wagoner said. “I really can’t say more than that.”

A hearing on the matter was set for Dec. 1. As for Shurtleff, the judge scheduled a two-week trial for his case slated for May 2016.

Shurtleff faces five felony-level charges of accepting prohibited gifts, obstruction of justice, and bribery to dismiss a criminal proceeding, as well as two misdemeanor charges for obstructing justice and official misconduct. If convicted, he could face up to 30 years in prison.

Shurtleff entered a not guilty plea in June.

Shurtleff, who served as the state’s attorney general for three terms, was arrested last year, along with Swallow, in the wake of a two-year investigation. The investigation, a joint-operation between the Salt Lake County District Attorney’s Office and Davis County Attorney’s Office, alleges both men engaged in various acts of corruption while in office.

Among the allegations made against Shurtleff is that he accepted prohibited gifts from convicted businessman Marc Sessions Jenson and federally-indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson.

Prosecutors point to Shurtleff’s alleged use of Jenson’s vacation home in Venice Beach, California, as well as use of Johnson’s private jet as examples of the prohibited gifts.

Jenson is serving 10 years in prison for communications fraud and money laundering. Johnson currently faces over 80 federal charges of Internet fraud.

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Email: mkessler@stgnews.com

Twitter: @MoriKessler

Copyright St. George News, SaintGeorgeUtah.com LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

 

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48 Comments

  • native born new mexican September 28, 2015 at 5:34 pm

    More corrupt federal government for you. They just keep showing themselves for who they are. Who are they covering up for? If we commoners did any of this stuff we would go to jail and have the key thrown away. Privilege has it’s advantages.

  • ladybugavenger September 28, 2015 at 6:40 pm

    The don’t want to hand over the investigation because it will show the corruption of the federal investigation and implicate more people in fraud and payoffs for the closing of an investigation that they had plenty of evidence to prosecute shurtleff federally. #latenightshreddingparty

  • 42214 September 28, 2015 at 6:44 pm

    Innocent till proven guilty? You’re the one always whining about innocent people in prison. What hypocrit. Explain how this is an example of government corruption when the trial is set for May 2016. You’re a piece of work Woe is Me.

    • native born new mexican September 28, 2015 at 8:48 pm

      who said anything about guilty or innocent? I don’t find those words any where in my post. I said it was corrupt to hide evidence. The people hiding the evidence are in the federal government. ( what a surprise!) I guess you must think it is OK to hide evidence since you don’t call that corrupt. I would expect that from you given who you portray yourself to be in this forum. Got any more trolling to do?

      • Rainbow Dash September 28, 2015 at 10:13 pm

        There is a huge difference between withholding and hiding. Perhaps the DOJ is attempting to build a case against someone OTHER then Mr. Shurtleff or Mr. Swallow and the release of said evidence in what is already a high profile case would severely compromise the feds case against those people. It is common for police departments invesigating a murder to release to much information about the murder because of the possibility that it could compromise the case and maybe put an innocent man or woman in jail. Yes people have confessed to crimes for many reasons including the simple fact that they want some attention or to protect their friends or family. I saw an episode of Cops recently in which the officer found drugs underneath the center console of the car. A further investigation the two passenger were related (father and son) the father was driving and the son was in the passenger seat. The car was registered to the son. The son had prior drug convictions but the father was clean. The dad took the rap while the son denied all knowledge. Because the dad was driving the vehicle, state law held him culpable and the officer was forced to arrest him (though I doubted that he would have had the cameras not been there because he said that he believed the dad had no knowledge of the drugs in the car). One of the reasons police withhold evidence is so that they can eliminate people like that mans father even after they’ve confessed to it. That is one scenario where I hope the case was tossed out.

        • Rainbow Dash September 28, 2015 at 10:15 pm

          to not release to much information****

          • native born new mexican September 29, 2015 at 8:17 am

            What federal case Rainbow ? The story says the feds decided not to prosecute. If you withhold something then others who need it can’t see it or use it. If they can’t see it it is hidden from their view. you are deliberately keeping this from my view or you are hiding it from me. Come up with a better excuse.

          • Rainbow Dash September 29, 2015 at 11:04 am

            Read my reply again Native. Since I doubt that you will but say you did, I’ll do you a favor a post the second sentence here again since that sentence was pivotal: “Perhaps the DOJ is attempting to build a case against someone OTHER then Mr. Shurtleff or Mr. Swallow and the release of said evidence in what is already a high profile case would severely compromise the feds case against those people”.

            Let me make it as simple as possible for you. Just because they closed the investigation against Shurtluff and Swallow does not mean that they closed it against others.

        • sagemoon September 29, 2015 at 12:36 pm

          I think that is a likely scenario.

  • 42214 September 28, 2015 at 9:21 pm

    The story says the gov’t is accused of hiding evidence. You say it’s corrupt to hide evidence. Show me in the story where it is proven that the gov’t has withheld evidence. They asked for a hearing about the matter. Every story involving BLM, Federal Gov’t or any Federal agency you jump to conclusions and whine about how big and bad the gov’t is. Wait for the facts. Why don’t you get your exercise in the gym instead of jumping to conclusions. As for trolling, as long as idiots like you, Mesaman, Accountable, or anotherreader are around there will always be a target rich environment.

    • aviatormh September 29, 2015 at 9:35 am

      “Wait for the facts” HAHA stop it your too funny. Your making me laugh. What was it you told me about me and my facts? HAHA I can’t stop laughing at you. Your funny!

      • 42214 September 29, 2015 at 10:41 am

        I see your dictionary isn’t helping but keep trying. I’m glad I can bring a little cheer into someone’s life.

    • Rainbow Dash September 29, 2015 at 11:07 am

      don’t forget Native Born New Mexican.

  • Rainbow Dash September 28, 2015 at 9:56 pm

    As the daughter of a retired police officer and municipal court judge as well as “sibling” for lack of a better term to many, many relatives in law enforcement at all levels, I feel pretty comfortable in saying that this is business as usual. This is just pure speculation of course but I think it is pretty obvious that we’re are not hearing the full story here and there are some very good reasons for why that might be.

    • ladybugavenger September 28, 2015 at 11:43 pm

      Government corruption runs in your family?

      • Rainbow Dash September 29, 2015 at 8:03 am

        I said law enforcement not a political party.

      • native born new mexican September 29, 2015 at 8:06 am

        Good question ladybug! Made me smile for the day.

      • Rainbow Dash September 29, 2015 at 10:50 am

        Oh look, you made the village nutjob smile Ladybug.

  • Ladyk September 29, 2015 at 12:18 am

    This should have been done long before charges were filed. A prosecutors job is to look at the evidence then file charges based upon thay evidence. You don’t file charges and hope you can find the evidence to fit the charge. I don’t think these guys are innocent but it needs to be done the right way. Mr Rawlings knows this so I question why at this juncture he feels he has to go find more evidence. Either he was able to show the court he had enough evidence to file charges or not. If not then this case has been mishandled.

    • native born new mexican September 29, 2015 at 8:31 am

      You make a good point but is it possible that this evidence was requested from the beginning of this case? I have read in other articles that the feds kept trying to manage and mess up this case. I have had the feds hide evidence in a case I was dealing with until I got to their witnesses and the witnesses told me what the feds (BLM in that case) was out right hiding and not telling the truth about. I know from experience the feds play dirty. They were sure mad when they found out what I knew from their witnesses! I know plenty about Shurtleff from some political situations. What ever he gets he deserves several times over. Maybe his past will catch up with him.

      • 42214 September 29, 2015 at 11:52 am

        You want to try again Native Born, what country has a better justice system than the USA? Should be easy for you.

        • native born new mexican September 29, 2015 at 12:57 pm

          Explain for all to read 42214 why you consider the justice – non justice system in this country to be fair, clean, and honest. When I point out facts about this country and it’s lack of justice you call that complaining but you never refute my facts or give any good reasons why you think there is justice in this country. I dare you to do that and not just insult and name call. The US justice system is no better than other countries that we point our fingers at and call unjust. Are you proud of that fact? If it is not a fact prove it to us. What country is the US better than and why? I bet you can’t tell me and give good reasons for your statement.

          • aviatormh September 29, 2015 at 2:38 pm

            Nbnm your assessment of 422 is a bulls eye. He can’t deal with facts head on he has to deflect and dodge so I wouldn’t count on getting an answer to your question but rest assured you will called something demeaning.

          • Rainbow Dash September 29, 2015 at 3:27 pm

            I agree with you here Native, Our justice system is flawed just like everything and everyone in the world. Why? it’s run by people and people can be….fickle… to say the least. With few exceptions men and women in this country are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law. We have juries where anyone from 4 to 100 people can decide someone’s fate and only they can decide a persons guilt or innocence for the crime(s) they are accused of committing. We are, to my knowledge, one of the few countries that does it that way. That’s why murder cases take YEARS to go to trial then, even if that person is convicted, that conviction can be appealed and overturned or amended ESPECIALLY if new evidence is found AFTER the original trial is long adjourned. Is it perfect? No. is it the best? IMO, yes. If I was a wrongfully convicted, would I be glad I lived here, a country where I can get a second chance to prove my innocence even decades after my conviction? Yes.

  • 42214 September 29, 2015 at 3:13 pm

    Again, you fail to answer the question by deflecting to me to provide an answer. OK, Mexico’s justice is crazy. You can be held for 1 year without a preliminary hearing, bail and many other rights we take for granted. As for Aviator, are you now Native Born’s new henchman? Talk about a troll. You spelled better but left out a word. Keep trying.

    • native born new mexican September 29, 2015 at 10:07 pm

      That happens here also 42214. Don’t tell people it doesn’t. Rainbow was going on about a jury. The jury is hand picked and then only given the information the judge and the two lawyers want them to have. They are just pawns who are used to give the appearance of justice. The jury system in this country is a total farce. The judge even tells them what they can and can’t decide. farce, farce, farce! Your answer for the third time is this country is the same as other corrupt countries. Prove to me it is not using facts. you can’t do it.

      • Rainbow Dash September 29, 2015 at 11:25 pm

        Obviously, you’ve never actually served on a jury.

        • Rainbow Dash September 29, 2015 at 11:39 pm

          The judge does not tell them what they can and cannot decide.

          Here are the instructions given during the penalty phase of Michael Sonner’s First degree murder case according to Murpderpedia.com. I looked for the ionstructions given during the trial phase but I couldn’t find them easily and I’m to tired to clarify this point any further.

          “During the penalty phase, the jury was instructed:

          Life imprisonment with the possibility of parole is a sentence to life imprisonment which provides that the defendant would be eligible for parole after a period of 10 years.   This does not mean that he would be paroled after ten years but only that he would be eligible after that period of time.[[[[1]

          Life imprisonment without the possibility of parole means exactly what it says, that the defendant shall not be eligible for parole.

          If you sentence the defendant to death you must assume that the sentence will be carried out.

          Although under certain circumstances and conditions the State Board of Pardons Commissioners has the power to modify sentences, you are instructed that you may not speculate as to whether the sentence you impose may or may not be changed at a later date.”

        • native born new mexican September 30, 2015 at 9:12 am

          Yes I have rainbow and I threw the book at the guy. I believe in punishing real criminals. Sadly we jurors were lied to about this bad guy by the lawyers and the judge. We had to figure out for ourselves who he was. We only found out afterwards what was being hidden from us. I was furious! I have seen this happen in other trials also. It usually happens.

          • Rainbow Dash September 30, 2015 at 10:33 am

            First, you’re just lying through your teeth. It does not “usually happen”. Secondly, what exactly is a “real criminal” to you?

          • 42214 September 30, 2015 at 7:45 pm

            It’s called admissable evidence under the 4th ammendment you moron. Read Mapp V Ohio 1968 you’ll learn alot.

  • 42214 September 29, 2015 at 3:55 pm

    One last time Native B, name a country which has a better justice system, criminal and civil than we do. This is the third time. Don’t rant about injustice and all the facts you are personally aware of, simply provide one country that has a btter system. Ask your buddy Aviator for help if you can’t think of one.

  • ladybugavenger September 29, 2015 at 5:21 pm

    No worries native…these people obviously speak from inexperience and come to conclusions from the outside looking in. The justice system is corrupt at every level that’s why some people pay for their crimes and some people pay for their crimes to go away. The FBI says government corruption is a focus of theirs but who constitutes what corruption is? A corrupt person?

    • 42214 September 29, 2015 at 9:57 pm

      Go to another country and get arrested. You’ll be crying like a stuck pig to be back in the USA. You throw corruption around like it’s a cliche. Are you really that cynical or just trying to be chic?

      • ladybugavenger September 29, 2015 at 11:37 pm

        Corrupt public officials aren’t highly convicted in other countries either….Mexico comes to mind

      • ladybugavenger September 29, 2015 at 11:46 pm

        That’s just stupid! Why would I want to go to another country and get arrested? I don’t want to be arrested in this country either…..I just like to see corrupt public officials who use tax payers money for there own personal gain arrested 🙂 and those that use their political power and abuse of authority to profit personally, ya, I like to see them prosecuted too. 42214 you must be for abuse of power. To each his own, right?

        • 42214 September 30, 2015 at 1:36 pm

          Ddidn’t think you’d get arrested on purpose, that was stupid. You just sound dumb enough to get arrested.

    • native born new mexican September 30, 2015 at 6:57 am

      The sad part of this is ladybug that I am almost certain 42214 has been associated with some kind of law enforcement. Imagine thinking like he or she does and being in law enforcement. Spare me ever running into him or his type of person. They like in justice- they feed off of it. The system we have is perfect for them.

  • 42214 September 30, 2015 at 1:35 pm

    Never did answer the question Native Born. Asked 3 times and you whimp out. I wasn’t in law enforcement. I just don’t like snivelers.

  • Ladyk October 2, 2015 at 7:36 pm

    Good heavens guys, stop the personal attacks. I have had years of courtroom experience and I can tell you that every time you go into court and go in front of a judge or jury you can never predict what the outcome will be. Even if it is the same case over and over and over you can never know what the outcome will be. I was in one case where I was on the stand on a pre-trial motion and the attorney was asking me questions. The judge stopped it and said “I have a few of my own questions ” and begun questioning me. At the end of that the other side went out celebrating. They were high fiving and thrilled with what had gone on. I knew we had lost but I did my best. When we got the judges orders it totally changed. The judge ruled in my favor which has gone on to effect many cases since. I have had another case where the law was so clearly on our side there was no question in anyone’s mind, on either side, how it was going to come down. It was going to be a 5 minute ruling and end a family squabble. NOPE, the judge basically said he didn’t like the case or the law so he ruled against us and said let the appeal court give you your ruling. I know Mr Rawlings well, I have worked with him over and over and over. He is a good man and will do what he thinks is honest and true. I am aware of many cases where the government does whatever they want to do with evidence. They will hide it, they withhold it, they will be all powerful and all giving or not. Don’t ever think that they will play by the rules. However, my original statement is true. The evidence he seeks should have been gathered prior to filing the case. It is a criminal case not a civil case where you can do discovery after filing the case. Goodluck to Troy, I wish you well.

    As for our justice system, I think if you do a little research it is easy to see that we don’t have the monopoly on Freedom and fairness in a justice systems. Yes there are many countries that we can point to that are much much worse but as we can all remember the O.J. Simpson case you can never predict the outcome.

    Lastly, come on guys, do we really have to attack one another over this kind of stuff. Can’t we find common ground in what we are hoping for our country and our justice system. I don’t care if you like my religion or not. I don’t care what religion or any that you are. Without some kind of mutual respect for one another we can’t have any kind of justice system or freedoms. Freedom isn’t given out of free air, it is given to us by one another. It is through mutual respect and mutual desire for justice, mercy and freedom that we live within our society. Once one of those becomes out of balance it all topples over and we loose it all.

    • fun bag October 2, 2015 at 11:08 pm

      i’d say someone been throwin’ back a few this evenin’

      • native born new mexican October 3, 2015 at 8:51 am

        Trolling again I see fun bag. Ladyk made a good, information filled post and all you can do is make an insulting remark. If you had any shame I would say shame on you.

      • Ladyk October 3, 2015 at 12:06 pm

        That’s the best you can come up with? WOW you sure have missed the mark. I think I actually feel sorry for you.

        • fun bag October 3, 2015 at 3:14 pm

          i read it and it’s just rambling nonsense.. can hardly follow it

          • native born new mexican October 3, 2015 at 5:25 pm

            You can’t follow it fun bag because you read at a 2nd grade level. It was not juvenile enough for you.

          • Ladyk October 3, 2015 at 5:34 pm

            Maybe you are the one tossing back to many.

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