A private investigator who has tracked Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller for months contends Miller is undermining the credibility of her office.
Miller, in return, suggested in an e-mailed response that accusations against her may have been "distorted" and "politically motivated." She also stated that such accusations "distract us all from continuing our important work" of prosecuting criminals.
Private investigator Todd Gabler said he had been hired by a client in August 2007, and he continued checking into Miller's life even after that client discontinued paying for the service.
Controversy arose last year after some of Miller's neighbors complained that she and her husband, Lorenzo, had permitted loud drinking parties attended by teenagers in their home. Miller asked the Utah Attorney General's Office to investigate, and its officials stated they had found no evidence of illegal
Gabler said there were some "intervening events" that prompted him to continue looking into the situation.
"The first was that Lohra used her public office as a platform to call her neighbors liars. Had she not done that, the investigation would just have gone away. But we started receiving calls from prospective clients who we had interviewed regarding this case. Basically clients started lining up outside the door they didn't like being called liars.
"The second reason is that she made a public statement that she believed she was held to a higher standard of scrutiny as a public official, which she certainly is. She made the claim there is no underage drinking in her house," which Gabler said he knew was false, referring to a Dec. 22, 2005, report from the South Jordan Police Department.
"I read the report where both Lohra and Lorenzo and their son told police there had been drinking by minors in their house," Gabler said.
Gabler said techniques used in the investigation, such as going through trash and videotaping the Miller home, were legal and did not invade Miller's privacy.
Further, he said the underlying issue is not underage drinking or neighborhood complaints, but the integrity of the district attorney's office.
"I've been in this business for 17 years, and a district attorney has got to be credible and has got to tell the truth," Gabler said. "This is fundamental to the office of district attorney. When you have someone who is using their office as a public platform to call neighbors liars and then lying herself, it does serious injury to the public good."
Miller issued an e-mailed statement in response to a series of e-mailed questions from the Deseret Morning News.
"I am very proud and honored to be elected by the people of Salt Lake County to be their district attorney. My staff and I have made great progress in reorganizing and reforming this office, including our efforts in prosecuting domestic violence and alcohol-related offenses," Miller wrote.
"Unfortunately, public officials are sometimes forced to face accusations that may be used to distort and misrepresent their lives. Those accusations, whether initiated for personal or political motives and regardless of the manner in which they are made, distract us all from continuing our important work."I will not let that happen," Miller wrote. "I will continue to ensure that criminals in our community are aggressively prosecuted."
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