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Reed said he understood Shurtleff’s "open door" policy of being willing to meet with anyone, "but in this case, [it] has become a runaway freight train as a result, and I think we can expect more of the same in the future if we as an office don’t resist these tactics."
But Shurtleff’s plea plan went ahead and other parties became involved, including Rob Stahura, a major campaign fundraiser for the attorney general, and Tim Lawson, a Shurtleff friend often described as his "fixer," whose intervention in cases and exploitation of his ties to the attorney general prompted top deputies to launch a criminal probe of Lawson.
The emails show that Lawson, who is not an attorney, gained direct access to details of the plea negotiations. In February 2008, Lawson emailed Shurtleff with the latest plea proposal.
"All I would like you to do, bro, is review this," Lawson wrote to Shurtleff, who forwarded it to Reed and Kirk Torgensen, a chief deputy attorney general.
"Why are we dealing with this guy [Lawson]?" Torgensen wrote back. "We cannot ethically deal with this guy outside of Jenson’s counsel. This is inappropriate for Lawson to be doing this."
Shurtleff continued to email Reed about the status of the plea negotiations. Eventually, Reed urged him to back off.
"Look, boss, the deal is almost done," Reed wrote in a March 19, 2008, email. "I would prefer you stay out of it at this point."
Lawson and Jenson’s attorneys pushed for a deal in which Jenson would plead guilty to reduced charges, serve no jail time and face no restitution. Reed, in an April 2008 email to Torgensen, expressed his frustration with the direction of the plea negotiations.
"People are asking me, ‘Why are you doing this?’ " Reed wrote. "And I have a hard time coming up with an answer without telling the truth or telling a lie."
Weeks later, Reed stood in front of 3rd District Judge Robin Reese, trying to justify the deal — which was almost exactly as Shurtleff had proposed six months earlier — in the face of opposition from victims demanding restitution.
Reese rejected the deal, deeming it too lenient, setting off a scramble to salvage a plea. Jenson has said Swallow and Lawson took part in those negotiations.
On May 29, 2008, Reese accepted a new deal, which required Jenson to pay $4.1 million in restitution over three years. If he did that and didn’t break any other laws, the offense would be wiped away.
California, here they come » Jenson relocated to California, moving into a villa in Pelican Hill, a lavish resort near Newport Beach whose guests included the likes of comedian Chris Rock, baseball slugger Alex Rodriguez and boxing legend Sugar Ray Leonard.
When the resort’s owner learned of Jenson’s legal issues, he asked the general manager, Paul Ruffino, to check him out. One of the references Ruffino said Jenson gave him was Shurtleff.
"Mark Shurtleff went out of his way to reassure me," Ruffino said in an interview. "[Shurtleff said], ‘When I was first involved with Marc, I thought he was a pretty bad guy and the more investigating, the more I talked to people and did things, not only do I think Marc is not a bad guy, I think he’s a pretty good guy.’ And a lot of the things that were done to Marc prosecution-wise in Utah were because people in his office believed people they should not believe, and he was going to do everything in his power to clear his name."
A short time later, on May 5, 2009, Shurtleff and Swallow stayed in Jenson’s guest villa. Receipts show they played golf and Swallow charged several purchases to Jenson’s account.
Later that month, Shurtleff asked his prosecutors to look at another Jenson case — one in which Jenson claimed a partner had swindled the businessman out of his interest in Mount Holly, a $3.5 billion ski and golf resort development planned near Beaver in southern Utah.
In a Sept. 23, 2009, email, Reed asked Torgensen if Shurtleff had been in California around Cinco de Mayo.
"This coincides with Mark’s directive to put a bunch of Mounty [sic] Holly complaints on a fast track, involving Steve Jenson [Marc’s brother] and others, who were claiming to have been bilked by some very bad men out of New York," Reed wrote. "Mark put out those complaints on May 8, arguably after having his meeting with Jenson and Lawson and getting an earful about Mt. Holly."
Lawyers in the attorney general’s office had reviewed the complaints and agreed they amounted to nothing criminal — just a business deal gone bad.Next Page >
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