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Criminal Prosecutors Become Criminals

Not One, But Two Utah Attorneys General Charged With Graft and Corruption

The attorney general is the chief law enforcement agent of each state. It is the Attorney General who decides in most cases what defendant should be charged with which offenses. Many of these guys are notorious for charging innocent people; allowing forced or false confessions and manipulated and phony "eyewitness" identifications (ID) to be used in court; they have hidden evidence supporting innocence; they have coached witnesses to lie or cheat; and they are often corrupt in the way they carry out their official duties. But in Utah, even those predilections take a back seat to what these two Utah Chief Law Enforcement Officials did.

Jack Healy reported this week in the New York Times that two former Utah attorneys general were arrested on July 15, 2014, in a sweeping corruption scandal, accused of trading favors and access-for-pay to rich businessmen and improperly accepting money, golf getaways, and rides on private planes and a luxury houseboat. The two men, John Swallow and his immediate predecessor, Mark Shurtleff, were arrested at their homes south of Salt Lake City and face a combined 23 counts of receiving or soliciting bribes, tampering with evidence, illegally accepting gifts and obstructing justice. Both were released from jail on Tuesday and have repeatedly denied any wrongdoing. These guys were the highest law enforcement officials in the State of Utah, and "reliable conservative" Republicans, according to their campaign pledges.

The allegations span several years and involve a large cast of businessmen with legal or regulatory troubles. For instance, the charges say that in a 2011 meeting in his office at the State Capitol, Mr. Swallow suggested that, if he were paid $120,000 by a local businessman, currently under State indictment, named Jeremy Johnson, "there might be more options available to Johnson for resolving that criminal case."

The charges also say Mr. Shurtleff and Mr. Swallow, then his chief deputy, spent time in 2009 at the California villa of a businessman whose guilty plea in a securities-fraud case had been arranged by the Utah Attorney General's office. The businessman, who was on probation at the time, paid for their lodging, golf, food and massages, according to the charges. For more than a year, the scandal swirling around the Attorney General's Office has riveted the state's political establishment, spawning several investigations and raising calls to tighten what critics call Utah's lax campaign-finance laws.

Mr. Swallow was elected in 2012 to succeed his former boss, Mr. Shurtleff, who served 12 years in office, but announced his resignation in November of 2013, less than a year into his first term. In March, a special legislative committee investigating the allegations concluded that, as Attorney General, Mr. Swallow had hung "a veritable 'for sale' sign on the office door that invited moneyed interests to seek special treatment and favors."

Remember, these are the top law enforcement officials in the State, gleefully prosecuting thousands of "regular citizens" and happily seeing them off to long, long prison terms. All the while they are stealing everything in sight.

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