SALT LAKE CITY — A Salt Lake businessman at the heart of the John Swallow scandal wants to put the former attorney general and his predecessor on the witness stand in the criminal case against him.
But prosecutor Tim Taylor said the effort is futile because Swallow and Mark Shurtleff wouldn't testify anyway.
Defense attorney Marcus Mumford contends the attorney general's office has withheld information and evidence that would be favorable to Marc Sessions Jenson. The state charged Jenson and his brother Stephen R. Jenson with felony communications fraud and money laundering in connection with the failed multibillion-dollar Mounty Holly luxury resort project in Beaver County.
"If they are going to invoke their rights against self-incrimination, that's a serious development," Mumford said after a 3rd District Court hearing Monday. "Because what that would mean is that they cannot share with the people of the state of Utah how they prosecuted or how they investigated this case without admitting their criminal guilt."
Mumford claims he asked Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills to hold an evidentiary hearing to "get the bottom" of the undisclosed information, including some that came to light last month in the Utah House Special Investigative Committee report on Swallow. The report accuses Swallow benefitting from a "pay-to-play" scheme and that he essentially hung a "for sale" sign in the attorney general's office.
Hruby-Mills is expected to make a decision in two weeks.
Taylor, a Utah County prosecutor who took over the Jenson case after the attorney general's office recused itself, argued that nothing would come out of an evidentiary hearing. He said he doesn't know exactly what the defense is after.
"We don't have any more documents," Taylor said, adding some of the information the defense wants is part of the ongoing Salt Lake-Davis county criminal investigation of Swallow and Shurtleff.
"I don't think they're going to testify. I think they're going to take the Fifth," he said. "I don't think that there's emails or documents or anything like that that deal with the crimes that we're prosecuting."
Mumford argued that Jenson was the target of "selective prosecution." He said emails from 2010 that came out in the House report show Swallow told Shurtleff to go after Jenson to "cover your you know what."
Taylor said regardless of how the investigation started, a judge found enough evidence to bind Jenson over for trial. He said he expects the trial to take place in the summer.
A one-time wealthy businessman, Jenson claims Swallow and Shurtleff shook him down during all-expenses-paid visits to his Southern California villa. He also accused Swallow of securing a "quid pro quo" agreement from him for a $1 million lot in the planned members-only resort development known as Mount Holly.
Jenson is serving a 10-year prison term for failing to pay $4.1 million restitution in an earlier criminal case in which he pleaded no contest to selling unregistered securities.2 comments on this story
Mumford said Shurtleff told Jenson to pay his close friend Tim Lawson as his conduit to the attorney general's office. Jenson paid Lawson $200,000 over several months.
Swallow and Shurtleff have denied the allegations.
Lawson faces multiple felony charges for retaliating against witnesses, witness tampering, obstructing justice, bribery, falsifying tax information to hide income, and failing to pay taxes. Prosecutors allege he used his friendship with Shurtleff and Swallow to influence others using intimidation and aggressive tactics.