SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has sued Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, the FBI and state investigators for $60 million, claiming they falsely charged and maliciously prosecuted him for public corruption.
Shurtleff said he filed the federal lawsuit to hold people accountable for civil rights violations and to compensate him and his family for lost income and lingering emotional stress.
"Even though the charges were dropped two years ago, it's still something I think will haunt me the rest of my life," he said Thursday.
Throughout late 2013 and early 2014, investigators — including the Utah Department of Public Safety — executed fraudulent and perjured search warrants to illegally seize Shurtleff's personal property, texts, phone records and emails, according to Shurtleff's complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court.
Agents wearing body armor and wielding assault rifles and other automatic and semi-automatic weapons used excessive force when they raided his Sandy home on June 3, 2014, knowing Shurtleff was not there, the 21-page lawsuit says.
Shurtleff also claims officers physically, verbally and emotionally abused two children, Thomas and Adrianna, both of whom, along with his wife, M'Liss, are plaintiffs in the lawsuit. He called them "Dirty Harry tactics" at the time.
"The force used constituted deadly force in that it could have caused death and did cause serious mental and emotional injury," wrote Shurtleff, who filed the lawsuit on his own behalf.
Prosecutors dropped the criminal charges against Shurtleff in July 2016, citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling regarding bribery, inability to obtain key evidence from a federal investigation and concerns about whether the former three-term Republican attorney general could get a fair trial in the high-profile case.
His co-defendant in the original criminal case, former Attorney General John Swallow, was acquitted after a jury trial last year. Both have pending lawsuits seeking reimbursement for more than $1 million in legal fees.
Shurtleff said he lost a $1 million per-year job at a prestigious law firm in Washington, D.C., because of the charges as well as other work. He said he was turned down for a potential high-paying lobbying job after the company searched his name online.
"That just happens over and over again," said Shurtleff, who now has his own law practice. "It's always out there. You can't take it back."
Shurtleff said he intends to amend the lawsuit with 100 paragraphs of more detailed allegations and bring in other lawyers to help him argue the case.27 comments on this story
Gill said Thursday that his office would review the complaint and treat it like any other litigation, adding it's "nothing exceptional."
"This is what our process is, so I trust the process and I believe in our process," he said. "That's everybody's right in this country."
The lawsuit also names Utah Department of Public Safety investigator Scott Nesbitt, FBI agents Michelle Pickens and Jon Isakson and the Salt Lake City Public Corruption Task Force as defendants.
An FBI spokeswoman declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.