Quantcast
Get breaking news alerts via email

Click here to manage your alerts
A.G.’s office: Former Swallow and Shurtleff deputy placed on leave

Scandal » New court document says investigators seized cellphone of longtime prosecutor Kirk Torgensen.

First Published Apr 09 2014 10:04 am • Last Updated Apr 10 2014 09:36 am

A top deputy to former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff was placed on paid administrative leave Wednesday during "internal investigations" into his conduct.

Kirk Torgensen, whose name also has surfaced in outside probes of the scandal-scarred office, had previously been demoted by new Attorney General Sean Reyes, who had assigned him to run training meetings but gave him no permanent post.

Join the Discussion
Post a Comment

Reyes’ spokeswoman, Missy Larsen, confirmed Torgensen’s placement on paid leave "pending further internal investigations."

"We will not comment further at this time on such investigations," she wrote in an email, "or any other external investigations that may be proceeding."

Torgensen, who has worked in the attorney general’s office since 1990, rose to chief deputy under Shurtleff and his handpicked successor, Swallow.

A Utah House investigation of Swallow found that Torgensen had directed the deletion of a "large volume of office emails" from the time when Shurtleff and Swallow were dealing with Marc Sessions Jenson, who was facing fraud-related charges.

A newly unsealed affidavit also shows that agents with the FBI and state Department of Public Safety physically took a cellphone from Torgensen to gain access to text messages that could be evidence in a string of potential crimes.

The search warrant for the phone records of Torgensen was served in January, but the affidavit from DPS investigator Scott Nesbitt justifying the search remained under wraps until Tuesday.

The new court document says Torgensen agreed to give investigators certain text messages between himself and Shurtleff that Torgensen believed exonerated him of any wrongdoing. One informant told investigators that he referred to the messages as "insurance."

But he balked at turning over without a warrant the entire contents of his phone to be analyzed at a regional forensics center. Third District Judge Vernice Trease approved the seizure of Torgensen’s phone Jan. 10.


story continues below
story continues below

The warrant says investigators are now seeking evidence in a long list of potential crimes, including obstruction of justice, bribery, witness tampering, tampering with evidence, open-records violations and misusing public money.

Records show Torgensen raised concerns about activities in the attorney general’s office. In 2012, ,he asked DPS to investigate Shurtleff’s relationship with friend and confidant Tim Lawson to determine if Lawson was peddling his access to the office.

In December, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill and Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings charged Lawson with six felonies related to the Jenson case. The counts accuse Lawson of evading taxes, retaliating against witnesses, obstructing justice and a pattern of unlawful activity.

As far back as 2010, emails indicate Torgensen warned Swallow about Lawson and now-indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, who made allegations that ultimately led to Swallow’s resignation last December.

"Lawson," Torgensen wrote in an email, "is the guy that is going to bring the house of cards down."

Gill and Rawlings are continuing their criminal probe of alleged misconduct by Swallow, Shurtleff and others.

Former U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman, who represents Torgensen, has said that the Gill-Rawlings probe needs to play itself out.

"We believe the facts need to come out, and there shouldn’t be a rush to judgment on Mr. Torgensen," Tolman said in late March. "We intend to cooperate and meet with authorities as often as necessary to assist in their investigation."

gehrke@sltrib.com

Twitter: @RobertGehrke



Copyright 2014 The Salt Lake Tribune. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

Top Reader Comments Read All Comments Post a Comment
Click here to read all comments   Click here to post a comment


About Reader Comments


Reader comments on sltrib.com are the opinions of the writer, not The Salt Lake Tribune. We will delete comments containing obscenities, personal attacks and inappropriate or offensive remarks. Flagrant or repeat violators will be banned. If you see an objectionable comment, please alert us by clicking the arrow on the upper right side of the comment and selecting "Flag comment as inappropriate". If you've recently registered with Disqus or aren't seeing your comments immediately, you may need to verify your email address. To do so, visit disqus.com/account.
See more about comments here.
Staying Connected
Videos
Jobs
Contests and Promotions
  • Search Obituaries
  • Place an Obituary

  • Search Cars
  • Search Homes
  • Search Jobs
  • Search Marketplace
  • Search Legal Notices

  • Other Services
  • Advertise With Us
  • Subscribe to the Newspaper
  • Access your e-Edition
  • Frequently Asked Questions
  • Contact a newsroom staff member
  • Access the Trib Archives
  • Privacy Policy
  • Missing your paper? Need to place your paper on vacation hold? For this and any other subscription related needs, click here or call 801.204.6100.