Ex-attorneys general charged with bribery

Two former Utah attorneys general were arrested on an array of bribery charges Tuesday stemming from alleged cozy relationships with several businessmen, a stunning fall for a pair of politicians who built immense political clout in their years at the highest level of state law enforcement.

John Swallow, 51, and Mark Shurtleff, 56, were arrested at their homes Tuesday morning, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said during a news conference at the FBI office in Salt Lake City in which he detailed payoffs involving gold coins, stays at swanky resorts and other luxury gifts.

“This is a sad day for Utah,” Gov. Gary Herbert (R) said in a statement. “The entire situation, regardless of how the legal process plays out, is a black eye for our state.”

Court records show Swallow faces 13 charges, including felony bribery charges, while Shurtleff faces 10 counts that include bribery. The most serious charges for each man come with a maximum penalty of 15 years in state prison.

Swallow and Shurtleff said the charges were false.

— Associated Press

Execution stayed for 54-year-old man

A federal judge in Missouri on Tuesday stayed the impending execution of a 54-year-old man convicted of three drug-related murders after the inmate’s lawyers lodged a series of appeals, including arguments that he is mentally incompetent and innocent.

John Middleton was scheduled to die by injection in the execution chamber at the Missouri state prison in Bonne Terre at 12:01 a.m. Central Daylight Time on Wednesday.

But U.S. District Judge Catherine Perry issued a stay in response to arguments by Middleton’s attorneys that he is not competent to be executed.

The Missouri Attorney General’s Office filed a motion to vacate the stay with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit, arguing that Middleton’s claim of mental incompetency was not valid and was a last-ditch effort to create an “artificial time shortage” so he could gain a stay.

— Reuters

Kissinger has heart valve replaced: Former secretary of state Henry A. Kissinger has undergone an aortic valve replacement procedure at a hospital in New York. New York-Presbyterian Hospital in Manhattan released a statement saying that the 91-year-old ex-diplomat was “resting comfortably” following the procedure on Tuesday. The hospital declined to release any more information. A spokeswoman for Kissinger would not comment.

Nagin files notice of appeal: Former New Orleans mayor Ray Nagin filed a formal notice of appeal Tuesday in the corruption case that resulted in a guilty verdict on 20 criminal counts and a prison sentence of 10 years. Nagin (D) was convicted in February on charges including conspiracy, bribery, money laundering, wire fraud and filing false tax returns. He is to report to a federal prison Sept. 8.

Man, wife killed in house explosion: A husband and wife were killed Tuesday in an early-morning house explosion in western Pennsylvania. Ray Trautvetter, 74, and Janet Trautvetter, 69, were inside the ranch-style home when the blast occurred about 4 a.m. in South Beaver Township, a rural area about 40 miles northwest of Pittsburgh, police said. Police suspect the explosion could be related to propane gas used for fuel.

— From news services