Kent Morgan believes he's the victim of a political hack job.
He fears the past is coming back to haunt him, since he had run for district attorney in 2006 and lost to Lohra Miller, who then became his boss. The 24-year veteran prosecutor was fired last month for allegedly leaking confidential information to a man accused of running a prostitution ring.
"I believe that my employment with the Salt Lake District Attorney's Office has been terminated for political reasons in violation of my constitutional, statutory and vested rights," Morgan wrote in a letter to the Salt Lake County Career Service Council obtained by the Deseret News through a public records request.
But Morgan doesn't want you to know any of that.
On Thursday he tried to stop the council from publicly releasing any documents pertaining to his termination. In a letter to the Career Service Council, he said , "I am justifiably fearful that any agreement on my part to release any documents would permit the inappropriate leaking of documents to be somehow obscured and forgotten."
Morgan then asked the district attorney's office to investigate who released his termination letter to various news outlets last week, saying the leak is a violation of public records laws.
The district attorney's office believes Morgan was feeding Steve Maese confidential information about his case, which goes to trial on Wednesday. Maese is charged with several counts of exploiting a prostitute, money laundering and racketeering.
The Deseret News on Monday reported that Morgan did have a lot of phone contact with Maese, with 132 telephone calls between them in a 21-month span. The newspaper obtained Morgan's phone records through the Government Records Access and Management Act.
Several of the lengthy phone calls happened near Maese's court dates. The pair spoke for 17 minutes the day after Maese was charged, and the two talked for another 20 minutes the day of Maese's roll-call hearing.
They also spoke to each other several times the week after police executed a search warrant at the Doll House, an escort service Maese owned at the time.
Both Maese and Morgan insist no top-secret information was revealed.
They are friends who enjoy talking about politics, nothing more, they said.
Now Morgan is fighting back, and wants to get his job back at the district attorney's office.
He's asking the council not only to give him his job back, but also back pay and benefits.
One of his key arguments is that Miller herself failed to be the one to fire him, which could be in violation of county personnel rules.
Morgan said chief deputy district attorney Dahnelle Burton-Lee "is without legal authority" to sign his letter of termination, citing county ordinance that requires his administrator to do it, according to a memo from Morgan to Miller.
Since Miller didn't sign the termination letter, Morgan said he should be reinstated.
In his memo to Miller, Morgan said he is also considering going to 3rd District Court to "compel the District Attorney's Office compliance with appropriate Salt Lake County Personnel Policies and Procedures."
Morgan said the termination went to far, as "my stellar performance is being ignored," Morgan wrote in his appeal. He included notes from his 2007 evaluation that said, "he has stepped up as a team player in support of the new administration," among other things. Morgan also included several commendation letters he's received over the years from various politicians and people in the law enforcement community.
Even still, the district attorney's office believes Morgan crossed the line.
"Your failure to disclose any association with this criminal defendant, your continued undisclosed contact with this defendant, and the fact that this defendant continued to have access to and knowledge of key confidential information regarding his case, but also breached the confidential information regarding his case, supports the fact that you breached not only your own ethical obligations, but also breached the confidentiality and ethical obligations of the District Attorney's Office," the termination letter said."This conduct undermines the entire mission of the District Attorney's Office as well as your ability to ever be credible as a prosecutor again in a court of law."
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