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Two former Utah attorneys general have been arrested, accused of accepting bribes

This combination of Tuesday, July 15, 2014 photos provided by the Salt Lake County Sheriff shows former Utah attorneys general Mark Shurtleff, left, and John Swallow who were taken into custody Tuesday as part of a bribery investigation. The arrests come just over a year after two county attorneys began scrutinizing Shurtleff and Swallow's relationships with several businessmen in trouble with regulators. (AP Photo/Salt Lake County Sheriff)
This combination of Tuesday, July 15, 2014 photos provided by the Salt Lake County Sheriff shows former Utah attorneys general Mark Shurtleff, left, and John Swallow who were taken into custody Tuesday. (AP Photo/Salt Lake County Sheriff)

Two former Utah attorneys general,  Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow, were arrested and booked into a Salt Lake County jail Tuesday in connection with an FBI investigation into bribery.

The two are accused in court documents of accepting hundreds of thousands of dollars in gifts and campaign contributions from individuals facing legal action in return for favorable treatment from the attorney general’s office. They have both denied the allegations.

Shurtleff, 56 served as Utah’s attorney general from 2001 to 2013. Swallow, 51, who served following Shurtleff, was his “hand-picked successor,” Shurtleff said, according to the complaint filed in a Utah district court. If convicted, the men could each face up to 30 years in prison.

According to the documents, the gifts included $50,000 to Shurtleff’s reelection campaign from Jeremy Johnson, a man who invested in a bank that processed online poker transactions in violation of federal and Utah law, the use of a private aircraft and luxury houseboat of Johnson’s by Swallow, and about $120,000 from a man named Marc Jenson charged with, among other things, securities fraud, give  to another man claiming to be a close friend of Shurtleff who said he could get access to the attorney general and influence various cases.

Swallow and Shurtleff, both Republicans, are facing two counts of receiving or soliciting bribe, one count of unlawful acts, and one count of obstruction of justice, according to county records. Swallow is also charged with one count of false or inconsistent material statements and Shurtleff is charged with one count of witness tampering and one count of evidence tampering.

Gov. Gary Herbert (R) called the arrests “a black eye” for the state, regardless of “how the legal process plays out.”

“This is a sad day for Utah,” Herbert said in a statement. “[T]his serves as a reminder that nobody is above the law and, if anything, public servants must be held to a higher standard.”

“This has been a complex, nuanced, multiple investigation … . Multiple leads continue to be investigated [and] the investigation remains active,” said Salt Lake District Attorney Sim Gill (D) said at a press conference, according to The Salt Lake Tribune.“We have filed what we think are appropriate and minimal charges. We could have filed more, but we chose at this time to just file what we did.”

Below are the full complaints:

Can’t see the documents? Click here and here.

Complaint against former Utah Attorney General John Swallow

Complaint against former Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff

Hunter Schwarz covers the intersection of politics and pop culture for the Washington Post

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