Utah County sheriff candidate Richard Mack says he didn't know the Securities and Exchange Commission filed a civil complaint against the operator of a Provo asset protection firm for which he works as a consultant.
Federal agents stormed American Institute for Research Thursday in connection with a complaint filed against Albert E. Carter in U.S. District Court. Carter also runs a business called American Institute for Re-boundology, a company that sells exercise trampolines.The SEC alleges Carter is involved in securities fraud by selling more than $3.5 million of 19th century railroad bonds which authorities say have only nominal value as collectibles. Mack is not named in the complaint.
"I have nothing to do with any of this," Mack said.
Mack still maintains Thursday's raid was aimed at him because his name appears on a search warrant served at the premises. An affidavit that would explain the purpose for the search was not in the file at U.S. District Court Friday, meaning it is sealed or hasn't been entered into the court system yet.
Mack claims the FBI, IRS and local politicos are out to drag down his campaign for sheriff. He called the timing of the federal action - five days before the primary election - suspect.
"The fact that Mack's running for sheriff had zero impact on our filing our complaint one way or another," said Ken Israel, SEC district administrator. "As far as I'm concerned, it's purely coincidental that Mack works there."
Israel said he only became aware Mack was running for sheriff shortly before filing the complaint. The SEC filed, he said, because it was the right time to initiate the complaint against Carter and two other Utahns.
"If we file like we did, we're criticized by Mack. If we had held off until after the election, we're subject to just as much criticism by whomever he's running against," Israel said.
To his knowledge, Israel said, local authorities were not involved in the SEC investigation nor the seizure of computers and files from the business.
Mack became acquainted with Carter when he started working as a consultant for American Institute for Research last August. Mack moved back to Provo from Graham County, Ariz., where he served as sheriff. The company's accountant hired him, he said.
The consulting job, Mack said, allows him time to sell his books including, "From My Cold Dead Fingers: Why America Needs Guns," and make public speaking appearances, mostly regarding his gun rights battle in the U.S. Supreme Court.
Mack said he provides consulting in many areas. Asked to be more specific, he mentioned only law enforcement. He also said he has sold some trusts and exercise equipment.
Nevertheless, Mack does have some knowledge of American Institute of Research's business dealings.
Mack said he doubts the SEC's claim that the bonds are worthless. The firm bought them in Boston for hundreds of thousands of dollars, he said, adding he's seen documents to authenticate them.