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Utah attorney general reorganizes agency

Published May 27, 2014 10:04 am

Reorganization • Six divisions have new leaders; financial-fraud sector added.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

In a sweeping restructuring of his organization, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes replaced six department heads earlier this month.

Although one division chief retired — Ken Wallentine, who led the investigations division — five others were removed from their posts. They will be placed elsewhere in the agency after each was given a chance to recalibrate and determine what job they might want, according to office spokeswoman Missy Larsen.

There was little explanation offered to explain the office shuffle, though Reyes did create a new criminal division and an appellate department.

The changes included replacing Scott Reed, the assistant attorney general who formerly chaired the criminal justice division and led the prosecution of several high-profile cases.

Reed and the Attorney General's Office recently agreed to step away from prosecuting the case against jailed former businessman Marc Sessions Jenson, due to a perceived conflict of interest given the businessman's alleged relationship with former Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff.

Although Reed has not been implicated in an ongoing corruption investigation into the Attorney General's Office, it has been alleged that he knew of a deal Shurtleff purportedly had wanted to offer Jenson. In exchange for making "the case go away," Shurtleff allegedly sought Jenson's help on a bid for the U.S. Senate — an offer which infuriated other members of the office, including Charlene Barlow, a onetime prosecutor and now 3rd District Judge.

Reed was replaced as head of the criminal justice division by Greg Ferbrache, who worked in investigations.

Joni Jones, the new division chief of civil litigation, replaced Steve Walkenhorst, who remains with the agency but will work in a different capacity.

Blaine Ferguson, who once headed the commercial enforcement division, is now the chief GRAMA (Government Records Access and Management Act) officer for the agency. He was replaced by Che Arguello, who previously worked in the financial crimes section of the criminal justice division under Reed.

Leo Lucey took over the investigations division from Wallentine after the man's April retirement. Lucey worked closely with Wallentine on a number of initiatives, including the agency's SECURE Strike Force on immigrant crime.

The office's division of child protection also has received a new chief, David Carlson, who replaced Robert Smith. Carlson previously worked in criminal justice in the insurance fraud section.

The division of children's justice, which was a criminal division run by Craig Barlow, has been dissolved and its investigators and attorneys were moved under the umbrella of other, related divisions.

Reyes also added a new division to the mix: the markets and financial fraud division. According to the Attorney General's Office, it consolidates work the agency was handling on mortgage and financial fraud. David Sonnenreich has been appointed the head of that division.

Laura Dupaix will head the criminal appeals division, which is now housed under the new appellate department that had been created when the reorganization took effect.

Before Reyes took over, the attorney general's office was split into two departments — civil and criminal — with each side having their own appellate division.

The reorganization instead houses a civil and criminal division under the new appeals department.

There's an opening for a new head of the constitutional defense position on the attorney general's executive team, according to the agency.

mlang@sltrib.com Twitter: @Marissa_Jae