SALT LAKE CITY — The Utah Attorney General's Office will remove itself from prosecution of the criminal case against Marc Sessions Jenson. Jenson and his co-defendant, Stephen R. Jenson, are currently charged with several counts of communications fraud and money-laundering in conjunction with the failed business venture in Beaver County known as the Mount Holly Club.
"While there is no legal or factual basis to disqualify the Office, the state acknowledges that the defendant's allegations have disrupted these proceedings and created at least the appearance of impropriety which cannot be overcome through other means. It is in the interest of justice for this office to recuse itself from further prosecution and return the proper focus of the case to the conduct of the Defendants," stated a motion filed by the attorney general's office today.
Jenson has been in conflict with Attorney General John Swallow and last month attorneys for Jenson sought a court order demanding that representatives of the Attorney General's Office stay away from him, his family and others.
Jenson, a one-time wealthy businessman, claims Swallow and former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff shook him down during all-expenses-paid visits to his Southern California villa. He also accused Swallow of securing a "quid pro quo" agreement from him for a $1 million lot in the planned members-only resort development known as Mount Holly.
Swallow, a private attorney during his interactions with Jenson, and Shurtleff have denied the allegations.
While there is no legal or factual basis to disqualify the Office, the state acknowledges that the defendant's allegations have disrupted these proceedings and created at least the appearance of impropriety which cannot be overcome through other means.
–Attorney General's Office
Jenson is serving a 10-year prison term for failing to pay a $4.1 million restitution in an earlier criminal case in which he pleaded no contest to selling unregistered securities. Prison officials recently moved him to the Davis County Jail for his own protection, according to his attorneys.
Jenson has filed a battery of motions and other allegations levied against members of the Attorney General's Office, including Swallow. The A.G.'s Office has filed its response, denying the allegations of conflict of interest and misconduct and asking the judge to deny the motion on those grounds, according to Paul Murphy, communications director for the Attorney General's Office, who issued a press release this morning announcing the attorney general's motion.
"Sometimes, perception becomes reality," said Assistant Attorney General Scott W. Reed, who is currently prosecuting the case. "What the defendant Jenson has successfully done is create a diversion which cannot be rectified. It is time to allow this prosecution to proceed and place the focus back in its proper place, which is on the conduct of the defendants and providing justice to the victims."
A substitute prosecutor is being sought, and will be announced at the next court hearing scheduled on August 5 if the judge permits the voluntary recusal. All defendants are to be considered innocent unless found guilty in a court of law.