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Attorney pushing for Shurtleff, Swallow testimony in controversial fraud case

Published: Monday, July 7 2014 6:05 p.m. MDT

Marc Sessions Jenson appears in court for a scheduling conference before Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills, Tuesday February 4, 2014 in Salt Lake City.

Trent Nelson,

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SALT LAKE CITY — Attorneys for an imprisoned businessman at the center of the John Swallow scandal are still pushing to put the former attorney general and his predecessor on the witness stand in a controversial fraud case.

Defense lawyer Marcus Mumford also claims the attorney general's office has failed to turn over thousands of documents that would make sure Marc Sessions Jenson gets a fair trial.

Mumford wants to call Swallow, former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, Tim Lawson — Shurtleff's self-described "fixer" — and former chief deputy attorney general Kirk Torgensen as witnesses. He said Shurtleff should have to explain his motives for prosecuting Jenson, and all four should have to testify about what went on behind the scenes.

"This case is what happens at the back end of a pay-to-play scheme," Mumford told 3rd District Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills during a hearing Monday.

Prosecutor Tim Taylor argued that any impropriety in the attorney general's office has nothing to with the facts of the case or the alleged crimes. Taylor said Swallow and Shurtleff would plead the Fifth Amendment if called to testify.

Taylor told the judge he has yet to hear Mumford point to any evidence about the former attorneys general that is related to the charges against Jenson.

"I'm not exactly sure what these thousands of documents are," he said. "We have not held back anything."

Mumford asked Hruby-Mills to reconsider her earlier denial of his request for an evidentiary hearing.

"We found there was more stuff, more information," he said. "Let's find out what's there and what's not."

Hruby-Mills said she would make decision on June 23.

The state charged Jenson and his brother Stephen R. Jenson with felony communications fraud and money laundering in connection with the failed multibillion-dollar Mount Holly luxury resort project in Beaver County. A nine-day jury trial is scheduled to start next January.

The judge also will decide whether to allow Stephen Jenson to be tried separately. His attorney, Edward Stone, said his client is getting swept up in the attorney general's office controversy though he has nothing do with it.

A one-time wealthy businessman, Marc 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 Mount Holly resort.

Marc Jenson is serving a 10-year prison term for failing to pay $4.1 million restitution in an 2005 criminal case in which he pleaded no contest to selling unregistered securities.

Mumford said Shurtleff told Marc Jenson to pay his close friend Lawson as his conduit to the attorney general's office. Marc 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 intimidate people, including investors in the failed Mount Holly deal.

Email: romboy@deseretnews.com

Twitter: dennisromboy

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