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Resolution may be close in jailed Utah businessman's fraud case

Published February 21, 2014 5:52 pm

Courts • He's a central figure in scandal engulfing two former Utah attorneys general.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2014, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

A resolution may be in the works for the fraud case against Marc Sessions Jenson, but his attorney told a judge Friday that the jailed businessman may not be ready to sign on the dotted line quite yet.

During a scheduling conference for Jenson, acting Utah County Attorney Tim Taylor ­— who is prosecuting the case ­— told 3rd District Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills that he sent two resolution offers to Jenson and his co-defendant brother, Stephen R. Jenson, on Thursday evening.

Marc Jenson, a key figure in the scandal engulfing former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff, is accused of felony fraud and money laundering over his now-defunct plans to develop a ritzy Beaver County resort known as the Mount Holly Club.

He is charged in 3rd District Court with eight second-degree felonies: four counts of communications fraud, three counts of money laundering and one count of committing a pattern of illegal activity.

Taylor said if the men accepted the deal, the case would resolve in a diversion agreement, meaning the charges would be dismissed if the Jensons follow a set of agreements, such as committing no further violations of law and testifying willingly if called to do so in other cases.

But Marc Jenson's defense attorney, Marcus Mumford, told the judge Friday that before signing off on the diversion agreement, he wants to resolve another issue: whether the investigation of Shurtleff confidant Tim Lawson unearthed any exculpatory evidence that could help clear his client.

"These issues need to be resolved before any agreement is entered into," Mumford said.

He asked the judge to set an evidentiary hearing in which he could call a number of witnesses to testify about whether all exculpatory evidence had been turned over to Mumford from the time when the Utah attorney general's office was prosecuting the case.

But Taylor said he didn't believe such a hearing would be necessary.

"Any individual who has exculpatory information, they are going to lawyer up," Taylor told Hruby-Mills, hinting that witnesses called to the stand may invoke their Fifth Amendment right against self-incrimination.

The judge did not make a decision on whether to hold such a hearing, instead setting a March 31 date for attorneys to further argue the issue.

The attorney general's office bowed out of Jenson's case in July and handed it over to the Utah County attorney's office after the defense alleged conflicts of interest due to Jenson's allegations that Swallow and Shurtleff orchestrated a "shakedown" for cash, favors and luxury treatment at Jenson's Southern California villa.

Marc Jenson, who is doing time on an unrelated fraud conviction, didn't level accusations of extortion against the former attorneys general until 2013 — two years after charges were filed against him in the Mount Holly case.

Lawson is charged with intimidating witnesses, evading taxes, obstructing justice and participating in a pattern of unlawful activity.

jmiller@sltrib.com

Twitter: @jm_miller