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"They go into golf outings and specific meetings and they’re naming names of two former attorneys general. So it’s pretty unique. … The length, the breadth, are pretty unique and it could be a harbinger of things to come," Benson said. "This thing reads like a movie. … It shows me they put a lot of time into this investigation or, at the very least, they’ve got a lot of people working on it very carefully."
Campaign moneymaker • Lawson was a prolific campaign fundrasier for Shurtleff. Several emails from 2007 and 2008 show the two men discussing fundraisers and meetings in which Shurtleff would be receiving large donations, in some instances $15,000 or more.
Lawson connected Shurtleff to Pre-Paid Legal Services, Mentoring of America and others in the so-called "biz-ops" industry, which became Shurtleff’s largest donors, pumping tens of thousands of dollars into his campaign accounts.
Emails also appear to show that Lawson introduced Shurtleff to Jeremy Johnson, the St. George businessman who founded I Works and now faces an 86-count criminal indictment and a federal lawsuit over various fraud allegations. Johnson and his associates gave more than $200,000 to Shurtleff’s campaigns through the years.
Jenson has said he was introduced to Lawson by a Shurtleff fundraiser, Rob Stahura. Lawson told Jenson he was friends with Shurtleff and agreed to work behind the scenes with the attorney general’s office to get Jenson a more lenient plea deal, Jenson said.
In February 2008, records show, Lawson sent Shurtleff an email about Jenson’s plea deal.
"All I would like you to do, bro, is review this," Lawson wrote to Shurtleff, who forwarded it to Torgensen and Scott Reed, head of the criminal division.
"Why are we dealing with this guy [Lawson]?" Torgensen replied. "We cannot ethically deal with this guy outside of Jenson’s counsel. This is inappropriate for Lawson to be doing this."
Shurtleff continued to keep close tabs on the Jenson case and in May 2008 — after a judge tossed an initial plea deal as too lenient — agreed to a plea in abeyance and restitution in the case.
From January to November 2009, Jenson — whom prosecutors granted immunity — paid Lawson $120,000, the charging documents state, to "gain access to then-Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and to influence, on Jenson’s behalf, potential witnesses and/or victims in Jenson’s criminal cases and/or anticipated civil litigation."
Lawson did not pay taxes on the income, according to the charges.
During the same time frame, Lawson, Shurtleff and Swallow all visited Jenson’s Pelican Hill villa and stayed on Jenson’s dime.
Investors who said they were scammed by Jenson received hostile text messages and emails from Lawson when they were trying to recoup their money, according to records previously released under an open-records request.
In one email, Lawson invoked his friendship with Shurtleff to try to get Colorado physician Jeffrey Donner to back off his efforts to recoup his investment from Jenson. When that failed, he unleashed a tirade.
"I believe that your insecurities, penis envy or the fact that you are [a] sad and lonely shell of a man will stop you from doing the right things to correct this," Lawson wrote. "It is your money, your life and ultimately your very lonely death in the end that will be a testament to how you lived."
Lawson also threatened to reveal supposed illegal activities at Donner’s practice, the charging documents allege.
McBride told The Salt Lake Tribune earlier this year that he had received threatening messages from Lawson when McBride was trying to collect a debt from Robbins, who was at the center of a controversial land deal for a Utah Transit Authority FrontRunner station in Draper.
McBride said Lawson threatened to have him beaten up, told him he had guns and called himself "Mark Shurtleff’s Orrin Porter Rockwell," referring to the enforcer for early Mormon leaders Joseph Smith and Brigham Young.
The charges state that Lawson also threatened to have McBride jailed, claiming Shurtleff knew "things" about McBride.
During a May 2009 meeting at Mimi’s Cafe, which McBride secretly recorded, Shurtleff offered to get McBride $2 million from Jenson. Shurtleff said he thought he could do that because Jenson was still subject to the plea deal with the attorney general’s office.
The charging documents state that, during a trip to Pelican Hill, Jenson said Shurtleff asked him to pay McBride $2 million, even though Jenson still owed $4.1 million in restitution.Next Page >
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