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Ex-Utah attorney general is anxious for bribery hearing

(Rick Egan)

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SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff says he is anxious to have his preliminary hearing.

"It's time to get this evidence before a judge and we're very excited it's going to happen in June. I look forward to telling the rest of the story that y'all haven't heard yet," he told reporters outside 3rd District Judge Randall Skanchy's courtroom Monday.

Shurtleff's preliminary hearing on nine felony charges will begin June 15, one week after John Swallow's separate preliminary hearing begins on June 8.

"It will be a year in June," said Shurtleff's attorney Rick Van Wagoner. "His name has been vilified in the press and he wants the opportunity to hear what the state claims it has, what it thinks it can prove and really start the process now of clearing his name."

Shurtleff, along with Swallow, 52, who served as the state's attorney general after him, were charged following an unprecedented public corruption investigation by the Utah Department of Public Safety and the FBI. If convicted, they each face as many as 30 years in jail. Both former attorneys general have maintained their innocence and intend to fight the charges, which they contend are politically motivated.

Shurtleff faces three counts of bribery, two counts of illegally accepting gifts or loans, and one count of accepting employment that would impair judgment, all second-degree felonies. He is also charged with witness tampering, evidence tampering and obstructing justice, third-degree felonies.

It will be a year in June. His name has been vilified in the press and he wants the opportunity to hear what the state claims it has, what it thinks it can prove and really start the process now of clearing his name.

–Rick Van Wagoner. Shurtleff's attorney

Swallow is charged with three counts each of bribery and evidence tampering, and one count each of pattern of unlawful activity, accepting a gift when prohibited, making false statements, obstructing justice, misuse of public money, falsifying government records, and failing to disclose a conflict of interest. A five-day preliminary hearing is set to begin June 8.

Shurtleff had requested their cases be tried separately. Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings has been cross-deputized to prosecute Shurtleff's case in Salt Lake County.

During Monday's brief court hearing, Skanchy set a June 15 preliminary hearing, which could go for a week. Van Wagoner said he didn't know if it would go that long or not since he still isn't sure what kind of evidence prosecutors will try to present in court.

"I really don't know what the state is planning to do," he said. 'I don't know what the criminal information will look like. I don't know what evidence they think they have. … I really don't know what the case will look like at that point."

Van Wagoner made his comments while holding four disks that he said the state had just handed over to him. They reportedly include more than 700 calls from jail by Marc Sessions Jenson. Jenson, a key figure in the charges against Shutleff and Swallow, was acquitted in January of fraud and money laundering. He is currently serving a 10-year prison sentence for securities fraud.

Van Wagoner said as of Monday, no plea bargain has been offered by prosecutors.

"And I think that with my client that would probably be a waste of time," he said.

"You can say that again," chimed in Shurtleff, who stood next to Van Wagoner.

A pre-trial hearing is scheduled for May 22.

During the separate preliminary hearings for Shurtleff and Swallow, prosecutors will try to present enough evidence to convince the judges that there is "probable cause" to believe the crimes occurred and were likely committed by each man. If the judges agree, the men will be ordered to stand trial on the charges.


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