SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is urging a judge to toss the corruption case against him, accusing investigators and prosecutors of withholding evidence and letting his case languish in the court system for years.
In a motion filed Friday night, Shurtleff’s lawyers asked for a dismissal. Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings, who is prosecuting the case, quickly asked a judge to schedule a hearing before making any decision.
The case has dragged on in the court system since 2014 when Shurtleff and former Utah Attorney General John Swallow were charged with corruption-related offenses. The pair are accused of accepting gifts and donations from people facing investigation by the Utah Attorney General’s Office.
In the court filing, Shurtleff claims he was a whistleblower to the FBI back in 2012 on corruption.
“Information he had learned concerning certain individuals whom he believed should be investigated by federal authorities because of potential federal criminal conduct and a potential conflict of interest in the Utah Attorney General’s Office. Mr. Shurtleff’s information concerned, among others, Utah businessman Jeremy Johnson and Utah Attorney General Candidate John Swallow,” his lawyer, Richard Van Wagoner wrote.
Shurtleff claims in the court filings that the U.S. Justice Department had a task force to investigate him and Swallow and declined to pursue charges, but suggested Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill did only after being re-elected to office. He accuses prosecutors of not providing what is called Brady/Giglio evidence, which is potentially exculpatory information in a criminal case.
Shurtleff claims some of that evidence includes information on conflicts of interest and why the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah didn’t pursue a prosecution, a possible conflict of interest within the FBI, interview forms of witnesses and audio recordings between Jeremy Johnson and Shurtleff.
Johnson, a St. George businessman and philanthropist, was recently convicted by a jury on charges of making a false statement in connection with a credit card fraud case. The jury acquitted Johnson on the fraud charges. He is awaiting sentencing next year.
“The State may argue that it recently acquired terabytes of data produced by the United States derived from a federal prosecution of Mr. Johnson, and that the State continues to produce material. Yet, Brady imposes an obligation to disclose exculpatory evidence “at such time as to allow the defense to use the favorable material effectively in the preparation and presentation of its case,” he wrote. “Here, the State failed to obtain or produce terabytes of data in sufficient time for Mr. Shurtleff to conduct a review prior to trial, especially given the complicated nature of the State’s allegations.”
Shurtleff’s speedy trial rights are being violated, which is affecting his life, his attorney wrote.
“On a monthly basis, Mr. Shurtleff struggles to cover the costs of his mortgage, provide food for his family, pay bills, and stave off creditors, who contact him almost daily. Mr. Shurtleff has expended his savings and his retirement. Many of his accounts have been referred for collection, and Mr. Shurtleff often cannot make his car payment,” his attorney, Richard Van Wagoner, wrote. “Mr. Shurtleff doubts he will be able to rehabilitate his name, restore his financial state of affairs, or find sufficient clients while this case remains pending—all of which only increases the anxiety and concern arising out of past and future delay.”
Van Wagoner accused the state of slowing the pace of the case.
“Let’s find out,” Rawlings replied in his own court finding, asking for a hearing.
A hearing has not yet been scheduled in the case. Shurtleff is scheduled to face trial in October, although his lawyers said they doubted the case would be ready for trial at that time.
Read the filing here: