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No federal charges coming for Shurtleff, Swallow

By Dennis Romboy | Posted - Sep 12th, 2013 @ 9:12pm



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SALT LAKE CITY — Federal authorities will not file criminal charges against Utah Attorney General John Swallow or his predecessor Mark Shurtleff.

Both learned through their lawyers Thursday that the U.S. Department of Justice Public Integrity Section completed its investigation and will not seek an indictment.

Swallow described his reaction to the news as "complete relief. We felt all along this would be the result."

"Frankly, I fell to my knees," Shurtleff said, his voice cracking with emotion. "You can only imagine, sorry, what this cloud puts over 14 years of public service and, more importantly, the impact on my family."

Rumors that the Department of Justice would not file federal charges against Swallow and Shurtleff have swirled for the past several weeks. But DOJ spokesman Peter Carr would not confirm the report Thursday.

“As a matter of policy, we’ll decline to comment and refer you to their attorneys,” Carr said.

The Department of Justice typically doesn't issue a report of its criminal investigations or explain why it declines to file charges.

"There aren't a lot of answers, but there are some answers," Swallow said, specifically that there wasn't enough credible evidence to bring federal charges against him or Shurtleff.

"The people may not know everything but they know that. That's a lot to know," he said.

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Several businessmen, including Marc Jenson and Jeremy Johnson, accused Swallow and Shurtleff of influence peddling in various settings. Some of the allegations involved both officials together, while others were aimed at them individually.

Shurtleff described his accusers as "liars, haters and political enemies."

"Obviously, I'm confident and known all along there was never anything I did that was criminal or unethical, particularly criminal, but you never know," he said. "I have great respect for the FBI and Public Integrity, in particular. They leave no stone unturned."

Shurtleff said he spent hours with federal investigators, but declined to discuss the details of those interviews.

The Department of Justice investigation was among five inquiries on the federal, state and county level aimed at Swallow. He called the allegations politically motivated.

The Utah House special investigative committee began its work in earnest Wednesday. Chairman Rep. Jim Dunnigan, R-Taylorsville, has said the committee has a different focus than the other investigations and would continue regardless.

Swallow questioned the need for the House inquiry Thursday. He said the $3 million estimated cost of the investigation would be better spent elsewhere.

"I ask myself. 'Is this a prudent course?'" he said.


Frankly, I fell to my knees. You can only imagine, sorry, what this cloud puts over 14 years of public service and, more importantly, the impact on my family.

–Mark Shurtleff


Swallow and Shurtleff also are the subjects of a joint investigation by Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill and Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings. They are looking into whether the two violated state ethics laws, which prohibits accepting gifts and compensation that would improperly influence the performance of their public duties.

Shurtleff said he as no knowledge of their "alleged" investigation other than what he has seen in the media and neither county attorney has spoken to him. He said he understands they have interviewed Jenson, who has "made up lie after lie about me."

"I would suspect that if there is an investigation that they will give the opportunity to come talk to them at some point and refute those allegations that Marc Jenson and others have made," he said.

Jenson, a one-time multimillionaire, claims Shurtleff and Swallow shook him down for campaign contributions and other favors during trips to his posh Newport Beach villa. He also accused Swallow of securing a "quid pro quo" agreement from him for a $1 million lot in the failed billion-dollar golf and ski resort known as Mount Holly.

Swallow, a private attorney during his interactions with Jenson, and Shurtleff steadfastly denied the allegations. 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.

Johnson, who faces an 85-count fraud indictment, claims Swallow helped broker an attempt to bribe a U.S. senator to thwart a federal investigation into Johnson's Internet company, iWorks.

Contributing: Richard Piatt

Johnson declined to comment, citing an ongoing court-imposed gag order in his criminal case.

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