SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) – Power, greed and corruption are at the heart of John Swallow’s trial.
That’s what jurors heard from an assistant Salt Lake District Attorney in opening statements. Swallow the former Utah Attorney General is facing multiple felony and misdemeanor charges related to bribery and accepting gifts while in office.
But were the charges part of a smear campaign and pre-determined? That what Swallow’s attorney told jurors in his opening statement.
“This isn’t about politics,” said Scott Williams. “This is about a man, a husband and father. This political attack, this frenzy went on for about a year and it worked. John Swallow gave up politics.”
Swallow resigned after taking office as the investigation began to unfold.
The state claimed while in office that Swallow was part of a campaign that solicited money from people they were investigating. Prosecutors claimed if you paid, the charges disappeared. It became known as the “pay-to-play” scheme during the course of this case.
One of those so-called shakedown victims was Marc Jenson who was the state’s first witness. Jenson was facing fraud charges and sought help from the attorney general’s office. Prosecutors claimed it started with Mark Shurtleff but found its way to Swallow. Swallow became an employee of the attorney general’s office prior to becoming the top law enforcement officer of the state.
Jenson testified that Swallow approached him, seeking money while an employee in the attorney general’s office.
“He says ‘I can’t live on what they pay me as an employee until I become an AG and so I need to make some money,'” Jenson testified.
He claimed Swallow told him, ‘you’ll need me because I am the heir apparent to the AG’s office.”
But Swallow’s attorney Scott Williams said Jenson’s a con man who has served prison time.
“He has a long history of lying,” Williams told jurors in his opening statement.
Prosecutors said once Jensen agreed to pay Shurtleff’s alleged “fixer” Timothy Lawson there was no stopping the money demands.
“Marc Jenson kept paying Tim Lawson hundreds of thousands of dollars, just kept paying three thousand each time,” said Chou Chou Collins, the assistant Disterict Attorney. “And hoping this case would go away.”
Jenson claimed Swallow had his hand out during the failed Mt. Holly ski resort near Beaver. He said Swallow asked for a parcel of land worth $1.5 million dollars.
But after paying all that money, Jenson testified the AG’s office didn’t help in his case. He still ended up going to prison and paying restitution.
He testified he met Shurtleff afterwards and apologized to him.
“He said if I did you wrong in the case, I apologize and hope you’ll forgive me,” Jenson said.
Shurtleff was charged with similar crimes but the Davis County attorney dismissed the charges claiming there was a lack of full disclosure from the U.S. attorney’s office. Troy Rawlings claimed the U.S. attorney’s office failed to produce all the documents necessary for a prosecution. Federal prosecutors denied the allegation stating they gave their office all the documents they had in their files.
Jenson will continue his testimony Wednesday.