Prosecutor: 2 ex-Utah attorneys general arrested
SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - Authorities arrested two former Utah attorneys general who were targets of a bribery probe that stemmed from their cozy relationships with several businessmen during their time in office.
Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff were taken into custody Tuesday.
Salt Lake County Jail records show John Swallow was booked Tuesday on four felony charges, including receiving or soliciting a bribe and misusing public money. Shurtleff was booked on four felony charges, three of which were bribery-related. Two of Swallow's charges and all four of Shurtleff's charges each come with a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Swallow and Shurtleff's attorneys did not answer after-hours calls Tuesday morning.
The arrests come more than 14 months after county prosecutors started scrutinizing Shurtleff and Swallow's relationships with businessmen, including allegations of a chain of favors, campaign donations and gifts such as spa vacations and use of a private jet and luxury houseboat.
Swallow resigned in late 2013 after spending nearly 11 months dogged by allegations of murky dealings with questionable businessmen and employing underhanded campaign tactics in 2012.
At a nearly half-hour news conference announcing his decision, Swallow adamantly denied breaking any laws and said the toll of the scrutiny had become too much for him and his family.
The first bombshell allegations dropped less than a week after Swallow took the oath of office in January 2013, when a businessman in trouble with federal regulators accused Swallow of arranging a bribery plot involving Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid of Nevada.
Reid and Swallow denied the allegations.
In the months following, the accusations and investigations snowballed, and led to probes by the U.S. Department of Justice, Utah elections officials and the state bar.
An investigation from Utah lawmakers concluded Swallow destroyed and fabricated records and hung a veritable "for sale" sign on the door of the attorney general's office.
Swallow denied the allegations and said any missing records were deleted unintentionally.
Shurtleff, his predecessor, is Utah's longest-serving attorney general and left the office in early 2013 after a dozen years as the state's chief law enforcement officer.
When he decided not to seek a fourth term, he accepted a job with a large Washington, D.C., law firm.
He left the job six months later after one businessman claimed that four years earlier, Shurtleff had offered him $2 million if he stopped trying to find a suspected swindler.
That came on the heels of a jailed businessman's claims that he paid for meals, golf and massages for Shurtleff and Swallow at a Newport Beach resort months after the Utah attorney general's office charged him with fraud.
Shurtleff and Swallow denied the allegations, and Shurtleff said they played no role in his decision to leave the Washington firm.