Tim Lawson, the first person charged in a sweeping investigation of alleged misconduct by two former Utah attorneys general, has bonded out of jail and did not appear for a scheduling hearing in court Monday.
Lawson, whose attorney Ron Yengich attended the hearing on his behalf, was excused, given recent family troubles but will be back in court next month.
The man, who has been described as a friend, fundraiser and “fixer” for former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, posted a $250,000 bond Jan. 10, days after a judge declined to consider his request for a lower bail amount.
Lawson will next appear before 3rd District Judge James Blanch in March for a hearing at which the court is likely to set a time for a preliminary hearing.
At that hearing, prosecutors will put on evidence in hopes of showing probable cause that Lawson committed the crimes of which he is accused: intimidating witnesses, evading taxes, obstructing justice and participating in a pattern of unlawful activity.
If they succeed, Blanch will order Lawson to stand trial.
Prosecutors in Salt Lake and Davis counties — who have been investigating former Attorney General John Swallow and his predecessor, Shurtleff — charged Lawson with six felony counts, for which he could face up to 50 years in prison if convicted.
State investigators working with county attorneys obtained a search warrant for cellphone records about calls and texts by Shurtleff and others.
The warrant, signed in December by 3rd District Judge Vernice Trease, demands records from two phones used by Shurtleff since 2007, as well as those used by Lawson.
In addition to Lawson’s six felony charges, the search warrant states that investigators are looking at other possible felonies in the case, specifically bribing a public official, evidence tampering, misusing public money and bribery to prevent criminal prosecution.
The charges against Tim Lawson
Count 1 • Pattern of unlawful activity, a second-degree felony, apparently related to payments from businessman Marc Sessions Jenson.
Count 2 • Tax violation, a second-degree felony, for allegedly failing to pay taxes on monies that came from Jenson.
Count 3 • Tax violation, a third-degree felony, also apparently related to the Jenson monies.
Count 4 • Retaliation against a witness, victim or informant, a third-degree felony, for a Dec. 16, 2009, voice mail Lawson left for Jeffrey Donner, a Colorado resident who was trying to recover $1.5 million he invested in Jenson’s Mount Holly development.
Count 5 • Obstructing justice, a third-degree felony, for a March 4, 2013, phone call in which Lawson allegedly provided false information to Kirk Torgensen, then chief deputy over the criminal division in the Utah attorney general’s office.
Count 6 • Obstructing justice, a third-degree felony, for allegedly providing false information during an Aug. 27, 2013, interview with FBI agents.