Associate of former Utah AG faces felony charges

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Associated Press

Posted on December 13, 2013 at 2:06 PM

Updated Friday, Dec 13 at 2:06 PM

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — An associate of former Utah Attorney Generals Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow intimidated witnesses, interfered with criminal cases and worked as a go-between for Shurtleff and a convicted fraudster, prosecutors alleged in court documents Thursday.

The Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office and the Davis County Attorney's Office charged 49-year-old Timothy William Lawson on Thursday with obstructing justice, retaliating against a witness, unlawful activity and tax violations.

Officers with the state bureau of investigation arrested Lawson at his house in Provo while serving him with a search warrant, Utah Department of Public Safety Capt. Doug McCleve said. FBI agents were there with him, as they've been involved in the investigation, McCleve said.

Lawson was being held in the Utah County Jail on $250,000 bail Thursday night, Utah County sheriff's Sgt. Spencer Cannon said. It was not immediately clear whether he had an attorney, and a phone message left at a number listed for Lawson was not immediately returned.

A joint statement from the two district attorneys said the charges against Lawson were part of an investigation into allegations of wrongdoing at the Utah Attorney General's Office.

Gill told The Associated Press that he wouldn't speculate on whether further charges would be filed against Lawson or anyone else.

Mark Shurtleff and his attorney Max Wheeler did not immediately return messages seeking comment Thursday.

According to charging documents, Lawson represented himself as a close friend and representative of Shurtleff and accepted $120,000 from a businessman to curry favor with the state's top law enforcement officer. In 2008, Shurtleff's office prosecuted a case against the businessman, Marc Jenson.

While he was on probation in 2009, Jenson paid Lawson to arrange for Shurtleff and his then-fundraiser John Swallow to stay in a luxury California resort with Jenson, the charges stated.

According to court documents, Jenson paid for hotel rooms, massages, golf and other items for Shurtleff, Swallow, Swallow's wife and other individuals.

Jenson was sentenced in 2011 to 10 years in prison for failing to pay $4 million in restitution. In exchange for the resort visit, Shurtleff and Swallow were supposed to prevent Jenson from getting into any further legal trouble, Jenson told The Salt Lake Tribune in a May 2013 article.

Lawson denied the allegations to the Tribune.

Swallow's attorney Rod Snow said Thursday that his client was in private practice when the resort visit occurred.

A few months after the visit, Swallow became Shurtleff's chief deputy. He was elected as attorney general in 2012 but resigned earlier this month, citing the strain of ongoing investigations into his dealings.

Swallow paid his own airfare to California, but Jenson had rented the condos in which they stayed and may have paid for some incidental costs, Snow said.

"Nothing in there suggests that John Swallow did anything illegal," Snow said. "The individual charged was Lawson, not Swallow."

Shurtleff told the AP in May that Lawson was a longtime family friend whom he was told had paid for the resort trip.

He said he never intended to help Jenson and Jenson was out for revenge.

"This is absolute malarkey," Shurtleff said. "He's a liar. There should be no credence given to his allegations."

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Associated Press writer Brady McCombs contributed to this report.

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