Judge won’t dismiss many of the charges against John Swallow

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SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – The trial against John Swallow will continue based on a partial ruling from the judge who is overseeing it.

Friday, Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills issued a partial ruling and refused to dismiss Count 1, which deals with racketeering.  The official charge is a pattern of unlawful activity.  It is a second degree offense.  

She said she is “reserving ruling on the balance of the other Counts for subsequent rulings.”

The former attorney general was facing 13-felony and misdemeanor charges related to corruption while in office.

Thursday, the prosecution recommended and the judge accepted the dismissal of three of the charges.  Swallow’s defense team also argued for a directed verdict seeking to dismiss the case or some of the charges.  The legal maneuver allows a judge to rule on the case instead of a jury. 

“The court finds that the state’s evidence in its case in chief supports a prima facie (appears to be correct) showing sufficient which would enable a jury acting reasonable to convict defendant of a pattern of unlawful activity,” the judge wrote.

There was a “sufficient cooperative arrangement and/or relationship” between Swallow, former Attorney General and Timothy Lawson, Shurtleff’s alleged enforcer, according to the two page ruling.

Judge Hruby-Mills stated that relationship could have supported a “joint enterprise to advance the financial and/or political aspirations of its members.

She said the prosecution provided evidence that the trio traveled together to Pelican Hill and took advantage of golf, spa, and food. 

“Mr. Swallow and Mr. Lawson took steps to assist in fundraising for Mr. Shurtleff,” the judge wrote. “Mr. Shurtleff and Mr. Swallow met with industry groups together and individually.”

She stated there was testimony that Swallow expected to become the next attorney general after Shurtleff left office. The judge said there was evidence that the three had substantial contact involving meetings, texts, emails and phone calls.

The following is from the judge’s order:

“The evidence presented included that when Mr. Shurtleff, Mr. Lawson and Mr. Swallow travelled to the Pelican Hill resort it occurred when Mr. Shurtleff was the Attorney General for the State of Utah, at the expense of Marc Jenson with monies paid by Mr. Jenson to Mr. Lawson, while Marc Jenson was under a Plea in Abeyance arrangement monitored by the Attorney General’s office. Exhibit evidence supports Mr. Shurtleff’s reasoning as to why the Attorney General’s office withdrew from the lawsuit with Bank of America, citing to assisting Mr. Swallow in light of the Bell fundraiser and Mr. Shurtleff’s subsequent employment with a law firm whose clients included Bank of America. Evidence was also presented regarding Mr. Lawson’s communication with Mr. Shurtleff regarding proposals for a plea arrangement for Marc Jenson.”

Judge Hruby-Mills said the evidence presented by the prosecution regarding alleged bribery stemming from Shurtleff’s visits to Pelican Hill, money paid from Jenson to Lawson and the promise of a real estate lot in the failed Mt. Holley development to Swallow “are likewise viable claims sufficient to support the alleged pattern of unlawful activity to survive a motion for directed verdict.”

She concluded the partial ruling stating “defendant’s motion for directed verdict regarding Count 1 is denied.”

Late Friday, Judge Hruby-Mills ruled on eight more counts and she refused to dismiss each one of those counts.

On Count 12, Obstruction of Justice, it dealt with Jeremy Johnson’s houseboat.  The judge said there’s enough evidence that based on Swallow’s interview with the FBI a jury could convict him.

On Count 2, Accepting a Gift:  Once again, it dealt with Jeremy Johnson’s houseboat.  She ruled based on testimony a jury could convict Swallow.

On Count 3: Receiving or Soliciting a Bribe: Travis Marker testified Swallow asked for $120,000 to help his client Marc Jenson with his legal problems.  The judge ruled the state presented enough evidence for a possible conviction.

Count 9, Tampering with Evidence:

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