Wednesday, July 16, 2014


Original Story:

Two former Utah attorneys general were arrested Tuesday on bribery and other charges stemming from the biggest political corruption investigation in state history.

John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff, both Republicans, are accused of accepting gold coins, resort vacations, other gifts and campaign contributions from several businessmen who faced possible scrutiny by the attorney general's office between 2008 and last year. They then allegedly tried to cover up the alleged graft by tampering with evidence or witnesses.

Shurtleff and Swallow were arrested at their homes in Sandy, outside Salt Lake City, and released hours later after posting bail. Both denied the allegations.

Gov. Gary Herbert, a Republican, called it "a sad day for Utah" and "a black eye" for the state "regardless of how the legal process plays out."

The scandal forced Swallow from office in December, less than a year after he took office. He was the anointed successor of the 56-year-old Shurtleff, who served a dozen years as the state's top law enforcer, the longest of any Utah attorney general.

Swallow, 51, faces 11 felonies and two misdemeanors. The charges include receiving or soliciting bribes, accepting gifts, tampering with evidence, obstructing justice and participating in a pattern of unlawful conduct.

Shurtleff, 56, was charged with 10 felony counts, including witness tampering.

The two-year investigation was conducted by state and federal authorities, including the FBI, the Utah Legislature and the lieutenant governor's office. It's not clear whether federal corruption charges will be filed; the head of the FBI's Salt Lake City office said agents would pursue leads generated by the state probe.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sam Gill, a Democrat, said additional charges would likely be filed against them and others. He denied that the case is politically motivated, citing cooperation from state Republican officeholders.

"We have filed what we think are appropriate and minimal charges," he told reporters. "We could have filed more, but we chose at this time to just file what we did."

At a news conference in his attorney's office, Shurtleff admitted making judgment errors while in office but denied that he had ever "intentionally committed any violation of the ethics."

"I have never misused or abused the public's trust. And I certainly have not violated any of the criminal laws of the state of Utah," he said.

Swallow reiterated his innocence as he walked out of jail.

"I look forward to my day in court to confront my accusers and to share my side of the story for, really, the first time," he said.

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