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Former Attorney General Sues Utah for $1 Million

Utah’s first three-term attorney general, whose public corruption charges were dropped under a cooperation agreement, sued the Beehive State for $1.1 million in legal fees.

SALT LAKE CITY (CN) – Utah’s first three-term attorney general, whose public corruption charges were dropped under a cooperation agreement, sued the Beehive State for $1.1 million in legal fees.

Mark Shurtleff sued Utah on March 9 in Salt Lake County Court.

Shurtleff, founder of the Shurtleff Law Firm and Shurtleff Group, was elected attorney general in 2000, and re-elected in 2004 and 2008.

He was the first attorney general in Utah to win re-election to a third term.

Allegations of corruption and bribery against him surfaced in Utah media nearly a decade ago.

The Salt Lake City Weekly reported in 2008 that Shurtleff awarded a massive class action drug contract to nonparty Siegfried & Jensen after the firm hired his daughter.

Earlier that year, the Deseret News reported that Shurtleff charged had nonparty Marc Sessions Jenson with fraud and racketeering as a favor to a political donor.

And in 2013, the Salt Lake Tribune reported that Shurtleff had been accused of offering #2 million to silence a critic.

Shurtleff was charged in 2014 with felony and misdemeanor bribery and corruption during his 12 years in office.

Those charges were dismissed without prejudice in July 2016, but similar charges against his handpicked successor, John Swallow, proceeded.

"#Hallelujah! #Justice! #gratitude," Shurtleff tweeted at the time.

His attorney Richard Van Wagoner said that Shurtleff was “delighted” by the dismissal.

"[Shurtleff] believes the state clearly saw the writing on the wall and at the very last minute filed its own motion to dismiss as a means to avoid having the court address the merits of Mark's substantial motions,” Van Wagoner said. ”The state's own motion expressly adopted much of the rationale set forth in Mark's motion to dismiss.”

Shurtleff, under a cooperation agreement related to the corruption charges, agreed to provide information and testify in other legal matters.

Swallow was found not guilty on all counts on March 2. Shurtleff did not take the stand in the proceedings.

In his March 9 lawsuit, Shurtleff claims nonparty Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes interfered in the dismissal of his case.

Specifically, Shurtleff says, Reyes promised to remain “walled off” from involvement in the prosecution, but ordered nonparty Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings to seek dismissal to avoid paying costs.

“Reyes’ response and reactions to Shurtleff's motions was an intrusion into the Shurtleff prosecution specifically calculated to circumvent Shurtleff's statutory right as a former public official to seek reimbursement and indemnification for his fees and costs,” the lawsuit states.

It adds: “Instead of responding to Shurtleff’s [dispositive] motion as the court had directed, the state breached the cooperation agreement by filing its own motion to dismiss, even while at the same time announcing that the existence of the cooperation agreement the state had entered with Shurtleff was the principal basis for its decision to dismiss the charges.”

Reyes said that his office never "directed, instructed or somehow forced” Rawlings to seek a dismissal.

"Similarly, any accusations of an ethics breach based on alleged directives from the [attorney general's office] are equally false and unfounded," Reyes said in a statement.

Shurtleff seeks $1.1 million in damages for statutory right to fees, breach of contract and bad faith.

He is represented by Samuel Alba with Snow, Christensen & Martineau.

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