Former Utah Attorney Generals Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow (pictured) were arrested this week and charged with an array of corruption offenses, some of which are linked to online poker payment processor Jeremy Johnson.
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Shurtleff served as the state’s Attorney General for 12 years before stepping down due to health reasons. Swallow was Shurtleff’s hand-picked successor and Assistant AG, but was forced to resign after less than a year as corruption allegations mounted.
Both were both charged with multiple felonies including receiving or soliciting bribes, accepting gifts, tampering with witnesses and evidence, and participating in a pattern of unlawful conduct.
Authorities allege that Swallow and Shurtleff received lavish, illegal gifts from businessman like Johnson, the Utah man who became embroiled in Black Friday due to his connections with SunFirst Bank and online poker processing.
Swallow reportedly spent two nights on Johnson’s luxury houseboat in 2010 and Shurtleff and Swallow regularly took the businessman’s private jet on trips from California to St. George, Utah. This VIP treatment was purportedly meant to coax the former top officials into stalling an investigation into IWorks, Johnson’s telemarketing company that employed fraudulent billing practices.
According to investigators, Swallow reportedly offered access to Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV, pictured) and Johnson hoped to garner a favorable legal opinion on online poker in Utah and squash a Federal Trade Commission probe into IWorks. Swallow allegedly told Johnson that the connection to Reid “wouldn’t be cheap.”
After that discussion, Johnson promptly wired $250,000 to Richard Rawle, a business associate of Swallow. Rawle then allegedly paid Swallow an $8,500 kickback. Reid’s office has responded to those allegationsby saying that the Senator “has never been contacted in regards to this investigation.” The DOJ refused to investigate.
As Swallow and Johnson started to feel vulnerable, they met in a Krispy Kreme to discuss strategy in an hour-long conversation that Johnson secretly recorded. During the meeting, Johnson purportedly suggested that the $250,000 meant for Reid be paid back and that Swallow erase all emails that could incriminate the pair.
Swallow then allegedly told his campaign staff that he needed to completely wipe his hard drive and that he had all of his data backed up on an external drive. He later told staffers that he had lost the laptop during a flight to Salt Lake City.
“This has been a complex, nuanced, multiple investigation,” said Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill. “Multiple leads continue to be investigated and the investigation remains active.”
Shurtleff (pictured), a Republican, responded to allegations by claiming that Gill, a Democrat, brought the charges only to boost his prospects for reelection. “I, as all of us, made mistakes in my time as Attorney General, probably, clearly errors in judgment, but I have never intentionally committed any violation of the ethics, codes of ethics,” he said. “I have never misused or abused the public trust and I have certainly not violated any of the criminal laws of the state.”
Swallow denied all charges and spoke out to a crowd of reporters as he walked out of jail. “This finally gives us the opportunity to start to respond back. With multiple investigations, we were hesitant to say anything. Now, we have our constitutional right to make our case in court,” he said. “I look forward to that.”
Both former Attorney Generals were given bail set at $250,000. But, due to their former position in the state government, they were allowed a supervised released without needing to post bond. “They are first-time offenders,” said Gill. “But, they’re first-time offenders unlike any in the history of the state.”