Judge dismisses charges against former Utah attorney general


SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A judge dismissed pay-to-play charges against former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff Wednesday, ending a high-profile case that landed soon after he wrapped up 12 years as the state’s top lawman.

Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills granted the prosecution’s motion to dismiss seven charges Shurtleff faced, including obstructing justice and accepting improper gifts such as beach vacations from businessmen in trouble with regulators.

Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings moved to drop the charges earlier this month, citing the recent U.S. Supreme Court decision overturning the bribery conviction of a former Virginia governor narrowed what could be charged in influence-peddling cases.

Rawlings, a Republican, also said federal investigators stopped cooperating with the prosecution of Shurtleff and did not hand over evidence from past federal investigations. Rawlings said he had to drop the case because it would violate a constitutional right to a speedy trial.

Wednesday’s dismissal was granted without prejudice, meaning the case could be filed again.

Shurtleff, a Republican, left office in early 2013 after he decided not to run for office again. In the summer of 2014, he and successor John Swallow were arrested in a joint investigation. Prosecutors said Shurtleff and Swallow accepted money and gifts such as luxury California beach vacations from a cast of questionable Utah businessmen in exchange for protection from regulators.

The U.S. Department of Justice investigated both men for bribery and other crimes but closed the case in 2013 without filing any charges. FBI investigators stayed on the case to help two Utah county attorneys who filed their own cases.

Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, a Democrat, says his case against Swallow remains unchanged.

Swallow still faces 13 charges of bribery and other crimes. He has pleaded not guilty and his attorney has asked for the case to be thrown out.

A judge has not yet ruled on the request.

comments powered by Disqus