SALT LAKE CITY — Now that all criminal charges have been dismissed against him, former Utah Transit Authority board member Terry Diehl is raising questions and seeking compensation for what he is calling a "frivolous" and "vexatious" case.
In a 68-page motion filed last week, Diehl calls on the federal government to pay his attorneys fees for 14 charges that were filed against him earlier this year and dismissed before the case could be brought to trial.
Diehl is entitled to the compensation, according to the motion, "because the government's position in the case was frivolous, vexatious, and initiated and prosecuted in bad faith."
The motion doesn't specify how much Diehl spent fighting the charges against him.
The government in April charged Diehl with five counts of filing a false declaration and seven counts of concealing assets in connection with his Chapter 11 bankruptcy reorganization in 2012, and later added counts of tax evasion and filing a false tax return.
Prosecutors alleged Diehl omitted more than $1 million in income stemming from the sale of land to eBay adjacent to the UTA FrontRunner transit-oriented development in Draper. Diehl resigned from the transit authority board in 2011 under fire for the project.
The indictment against Diehl came down one day after the U.S. Attorney's Office announced an agreement not to prosecute UTA for any possible wrongdoing in the deal.
But as a jury trial set for earlier this month approached, prosecutors dropped the 14 charges against Diehl down to three, then one, and finally dismissed the case entirely just after jurors had been sworn in.
Prosecutors cannot refile the case because the jury was already impaneled when the last charge was dropped.
At the time the case was dismissed, Dave Backman, the criminal division chief of the U.S Attorney's Office, admitted that prosecutors made errors that led them to drop charges.
"It was also based on mistakes by our prosecution team, and we owned up to those. When we make mistakes in a criminal case, we try to do the right thing and dismiss those charges as soon as possible, and that's what we did. We wish we had done things differently, but that was the reality," Backman said.6 comments on this story
Because each step in the case, from the first indictment to the final dismissal, required action by a grand jury, Diehl is asking that a judge review exactly what information was presented to the jury's members.
"The use of the grand jury to dismiss counts here smacks of abuse of the grand jury process and a lack of grand jury independence. In each case, the government informed Mr. Diehl and the court of what the grand jury would do before the grand jury did it, or likely even knew about it," one footnote in the motion reads.
Diehl's motion calls for the court to schedule additional filing deadlines and hearings to argue the issue. So far nothing has been scheduled, according to court records.