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Investigators search homes of former attorneys general John Swallow, Mark Shurtleff

Published: Monday, June 2 2014 6:15 p.m. MDT

Updated: Wednesday, July 30 2014 9:45 a.m. MDT

Former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff is interviewed in his office at the Capitol in Salt Lake City, Tuesday, Dec. 18, 2012.

Ravell Call, Deseret News

SANDY — Investigators searched the Sandy homes of former Utah attorneys general John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff on Monday.

Republicans Swallow and Shurtleff are targets in a monthslong criminal investigation by Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings. The FBI and Utah Department of Public Safety also are helping conduct the probe into alleged wrongdoing in the attorney general's office.

Shurtleff said in a text message that this is the first time investigators have served a search warrant at his house. He said the allegations aren't any different from the ones "paraded" in the media the past 18 months.

FBI, State Bureau of Investigation and public safety agents executed three search warrants simultaneously at about 4:30 p.m. But the agencies said in a statement that "due to the sensitive nature of the investigation" they would not elaborate.

Gill also would not discuss details about the search warrants, but said no criminal charges have been filed.

"We continue to work with our state and federal partners in an active investigation and pursue all leads and avenues consistent with that investigation," he said.

Agents pulled cars into Shurtleff's and Swallow's garages and closed the doors, presumably to load evidence they had collected, before leaving. They left Shurtleff's home about 7:15 p.m. and Swallow's home just after 8 p.m.

At Swallow's house, two young neighbor boys knocked on the door holding a plate of cookies and what appeared to be a greeting card. An FBI agent answered the door and accepted the gift.

No one answered when reporters went to Swallow's front door seeking comment. Swallow's attorney, Rod Snow, said he had no comment.

Utah Democratic Party Chairman Peter Corroon issued a statement applauding the efforts of Gill, a Democrat, and Rawlings, a Republican.

"Sim never gives up and he never gives in. He is relentless in the pursuit of justice and the truth. Utah is lucky to have him on the case," said Corroon, the former Salt Lake County mayor.

Investigators have obtained a large amount of evidence in the case through a series of search warrants for electronic data belonging to current and former members of the Utah Attorney General's Office.

They believe the records are evidence for eight possible crimes, including receiving or soliciting a bribe or bribery by a public servant and misusing public money, according to court records.

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes released a report in April that found Shurtleff's behavior while his office prosecuted a wealthy Salt Lake businessman "defies explanation."

Reyes hired two former federal prosecutors to investigate how the office dealt with two criminal cases against convicted felon Marc Sessions Jenson, who has accused Shurtleff and Swallow of shaking him down for money and favors.

Shurtleff has vowed to fight any criminal charges filed against him.

"I'll say flat-out, I'll tell you right now, if I were to be charged, I'm going to win. They're going to lose. This is not something I'm going to lay down for," he said after the report came out.

Swallow, too, has denied any wrongdoing.

A Utah House Special Investigative Committee report says Swallow's 2012 election campaign devised a strategy to hide hundreds of thousands of dollars in donations from the payday loan industry and that he destroyed data and created false documents. It also alleges he deliberately deleted information in computer files and other electronic devices.

Swallow resigned last December after 11 months in office. He succeeded Shurtleff, who decided not to seek re-election after 12 years on the job.

Gill earlier said the House report is part of a larger "mosaic" and complements the county investigation.

State investigators say they've conducted hundreds of interviews, combed through nearly 200,000 pages of documents and electronic files. They're also looking at a state elections office report that alleges Swallow violated financial disclosure laws.

The U.S. Department of Justice Public Integrity Section investigated Shurtleff and Swallow for several months last year but declined to file criminal charges.

Authorities have arrested one person in the ongoing county investigation.

Timothy William Lawson, 49, 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 Lawson used a friendship with Shurtleff and Swallow to influence others using intimidation and aggressive tactics.

Contributing: McKenzie Romero, Pat Reavy

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com, Twitter: dennisromboy

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