A veteran prosecutor in the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office was axed for allegedly leaking information to a man about to go on trial for running a prostitution ring.
Kent Morgan was fired last month and currently is appealing the decision before the county's personnel board.
According to a letter sent by the district attorney's office to the Salt Lake County Career Services Council, Morgan was fired for revealing confidential information to Steve Maese, who was co-owner of the Doll House. Maese is scheduled to go to trial on April 23 on six felony counts, including money laundering, exploiting a prostitute and a second-degree felony pattern of unlawful activity.
Maese apparently made some sort of statement to police that made them believe he knew information only prosecutors involved in screening the case would have known, according to the letter. The letter also indicates Morgan was involved in confidential meetings in which prosecutors screened the charges against Maese, a fact Morgan disputed to KUTV news.
The letter does not specify what information Maese supposedly knew that only prosecutors would have known.
"That information was only known within the District Attorney's Office," the letter states. "Without an inside source he wouldn't have had access to the information"
Salt Lake County District Attorney Lohra Miller said she has the phone records to prove Morgan and Maese spoke with each other several times during the screening process, according to the letter.
Miller's office was "notified by outside sources that you were providing confidential internal information to a defendant in a criminal case that the office was prosecuting," the letter states. Miller declined to comment late Friday, since it is a personnel matter.
Several attempts to reach Morgan Friday were unsuccessful, but the 24-year veteran Salt Lake County prosecutor told KUTV he didn't do anything wrong. He believes his firing was politically motivated.
"No I was not a mole in the DA's office for any purpose," Morgan told KUTV news.
Miller and Morgan are political enemies. Morgan ran against her for district attorney in 2006 but lost at the Republican convention.
"I think the office is a professional office," Morgan told KUTV. "I think people with political agendas don't always act in a professional way."
Maese worked on Morgan's campaign, and the two are thought to consider each other friends.
But that's as far as it goes, Morgan said.
"I stayed away from my friend's case," Morgan said in an earlier interview with the Deseret Morning News. "I referred him to an attorney and didn't discuss the case with him at all and maintained my friendship."
Maese declined to comment.
Morgan is a "merit employee," which means there must be just cause for getting rid of him. Firings can be brought before the county's personnel review board.
Morgan has handled a number of high-profile cases over the years, the most recent of which was Floyd Eugene Maestas, who was given a death sentence last month by a jury for beating and stomping a 72-year-old woman to death in 2004.
Among other high-profile cases he has handled are:
• Brian David Mitchell and Wanda Eileen Barzee, who are charged with kidnapping Elizabeth Smart in 2002, along with several other charges. Their respective cases are ongoing and are taking considerable time due to questions regarding the mental health of the defendants.
• Roberto Arguelles, a serial killer who pleaded guilty in 1992 to kidnapping, sexually assaulting and killing four women. He asked to be executed and an execution was scheduled, but he died in prison of natural causes.
• Richard Worthington, a man who burst into Alta View Hospital in 1991 with guns and explosives, held the building's occupants captive for 18 hours and killed a nurse. He pleaded guilty, later tried to appeal and proved to be a problem prisoner in Utah. He was transferred to prison in Nevada where he committed suicide.• Michael Scott DeCorso, who was convicted of the 1996 murder of a woman who worked at a shoe store in West Jordan. He ultimately pleaded guilty to raping and assaulting four other women. He is serving a life sentence without parole.