SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – John Swallow knew he was home free after the judge read the eighth “not guilty” verdict.
“The last one was a Class B misdemeanor and I didn’t think they’d find me guilty of that,” the former Utah Attorney General said Friday.
Late Thursday, a verdict indeed found him not guilty on all counts related to corruption while he was in office.
But he says the hours and moments leading up to that were excruciating.
He recalled meeting with his family before the jury announced its verdict.
“I told my kids the jury could very well find me guilty of something and if they do I could walkout out that door in handcuffs and not see me as a free man for a while,” Swallow said. “(He told his children) I need to know that you’ll take care of your mom and I want you to know that I’m going to be okay.”
After hearing the first “not guilty” verdict related to racketeering Swallow felt some relief.
“If I would have been found guilty on count one I would have been guilty of four felonies,” he said. “So it was huge.”
And one by one the charges disappeared. Swallow’s four year nightmare of going to prison was over.
“(There) was the joy and elation,” he said. “We felt when we got the verdict which was like the whole world came off our chests and we just knew we had our lives back.”
He said waking up this morning with his wife at his side felt very different.
“I woke up this morning lying next to my wife embraced her and felt so grateful to be with her and not have to worry if that would ever have to change,” Swallow said.
He praised the jury, calling them educated, in tune with the trial which from the outset, gave him hope.
“I’ve never seen a jury that conscientious,” he said.
He said he doesn’t blame those behind the many investigations. Swallow said they were doing their job. But he never felt they would amount to any charges. And it soon took its toll. As attorney general it was overwhelming. He resigned before charges were ever filed.
“It broke my heart,” he said. “There’s no way the people in that office can know how much I loved them and how much I did my very best every day to make their lives better. I tried getting them better pay.”
But as a former prosecutor and watching the Salt Lake prosecution team go after him, he said it made him wonder why they chose to file charges when other investigating groups walked away. He blamed it on politics but said it’s time to move on to more important matters.
“What I learned from this, it’s invaluable to me,” Swallow said. “I learned what my family means to me. I learned what my faith means. I learned what my neighbors mean to me and I believe I’m a better person because of this.”