Fuhrman says goodbye to FBI's Salt Lake region

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SALT LAKE CITY -- Utah's top FBI agent, Tim Fuhrman, credited cooperation from the public and fellow law enforcement agencies Monday with helping to solve a long list of high-profile cases during his tenure in Salt Lake City.

Fuhrman will leave to take a similar post for the FBI region based in Mobile, Ala. In a news conference, he reflected on a nearly five-year stint that included some of the biggest stories in the Western region.

The FBI investigates a mind-boggling array of cases--from the disappearance and murder of Destiny Norton in Salt Lake City, to the multi-million dollar alleged Ponzi scheme of a Utah County businessman, to the capture and prosecution of fugitive polygamist leader Warren Jeffs.

As special agent in charge of the Utah, Montana and Idaho offices for four and a half years, Fuhrman saw a lot.

"I've had a very, very good run here," he said.

Fuhrman will now return to a similar job in Alabama, where he worked before. The decision comes, in part, to be closer to family who live back East.

He oversaw 135 investigators in Salt Lake, often working in dangerous and high pressure situations. Some cases were controversial--like the indictment of two dozen people in a sweeping undercover investigation into ancient artifacts stolen from public and tribal lands. He was criticized by some for heavy-handed tactics.

"I know there has been some discussion about what has been done in that case, but I do think, for the most part, we have the trust of the citizenry in this part of the country," Fuhrman said.

Many cases hinged on cooperation. In the Warren Jeffs case--the reclusive leader was on the Most Wanted list--tips poured in and a Nevada highway patrolman spotted him on a traffic stop.

"The common theme is most of what we do cannot be done without somebody in the general public coming forward and telling us about it, or someone in another agency telling us about it," Fuhrman said.

Fuhrman said he's confident he'll be leaving some pending cases in capable hands.

The agency doesn't yet know who will replace him. The position is posted, and the FBI's director will probably make a decision within the next month.

E-mail: jdaley@ksl.com

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