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Swallow facing new money laundering charge

(Al Hartman/Pool photo/File)



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SALT LAKE CITY — State prosecutors leveled a new money laundering charge against former Utah Attorney General John Swallow on Wednesday, a little more than two weeks before a judge will decide whether he will stand trial.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office also filed its witness list for a weeklong preliminary hearing scheduled to start June 8 that includes indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson, imprisoned businessman Marc Sessions Jenson and former Swallow campaign staffers.

Swallow now faces 13 felonies and one misdemeanor as the result of a sweeping public corruption investigation that also resulted in criminal charges against his predecessor, Mark Shurtleff. Prosecutors also dropped one count of failure to disclose a conflict of interest against Swallow in the latest filing.

Swallow's attorney Steve McCaughey said in an email that he won't seek to delay the preliminary hearing as a result of the new charges nor did he have a comment on them.

Prosecutors say Swallow and Shurtleff illegally accepted gifts and money from several businessmen. Both have maintained their innocence.

Charges against Swallow, who resigned after less than a year in office, include pattern of unlawful activity, accepting bribes, tampering with evidence, misuse of public money and obstruction of justice.

Shurtleff faces nine felony counts including bribery, illegally accepting gifts, improper use of employee position and obstructing justice. A five-day preliminary hearing in his case is slated to start June 15.

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Allegations of wrongdoing against Swallow surfaced in early January 2013, just a week into his term as attorney general. Shurtleff, who didn't seek re-election after 12 years in office, hired Swallow as his chief deputy in 2009 and groomed him as his heir apparent.

The accusations spawned state and federal investigations and led the Utah House of Representatives to create a special investigative committee.

The committee concluded that Swallow "hung a veritable 'for sale' sign" on his office door. It also alleged that Swallow destroyed a voluminous amount of computer and cellphone data, and falsified documents.

Several of the criminal charges stem from the relationships Swallow and Shurtleff had with Johnson, a St. George businessman who is named in an 86-count federal indictment alleging fraud in connection with his online business, iWorks.

Shurtleff is accused of using Johnson's private jet to fly to a fundraiser in California and using his plane to fly to New York to pick up actor Vincent D'Onofrio for an event, the charges state.

Swallow used Johnson's luxury houseboat on several occasions while he was chief deputy in the attorney general's office, according to court documents.

Jenson, a Salt Lake businessman, claims Swallow and Shurtleff shook him down for money and favors at his Southern California villa. Jenson is serving a 10-year prison term for failing to pay $4.1 million in restitution after pleading no contest to selling unregistered securities.

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Dennis Romboy

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