Utah Legislature to consider $1.5M payout to former A.G. John Swallow, who was acquitted of corruption charges

(Chris Detrick | Tribune file photo) In this March 2, 2017, former Utah Attorney General John Swallow talks to members of the media after his trial in Salt Lake City. Swallow has sued the state for reimbursement of the nearly $1.6 million in legal fees he accumulated during a court battle that ended with a jury acquitting him of corruption charges last year that led to his resignation.

Former Utah Attorney General John Swallow is poised to recoup the costs of his 2017 trial on corruption charges when state lawmakers convene in special session Sept. 16.

Richard Piatt, spokesman for Attorney General Sean Reyes, confirmed Friday that an agreement had been reached to pay $1.5 million to Swallow to end his lawsuit against the state and compensate Swallow for his acquittal of corruption-related charges in 2017.

“After a jury acquitted John Swallow, he sued the state for his attorney fees as Utah law allows,” Piatt said in a prepared statement. “The parties have agreed to settle his claim for $1.5 million in exchange for dismissal of all claims with prejudice, which ends this case. Mr. Swallow’s attorney fees will be taken from this amount."

Reyes recused himself from the matter, Piatt said.

Before the trial, a special investigative committee of the Utah House interviewed hundreds of witnesses and combed through tens of thousands of documents before concluding that “Mr. Swallow hung a veritable “for sale” sign on the office door that invited moneyed interests to seek special treatment and favors.”

Swallow told FOX 13 on Friday that he was thrilled to reach the end of his legal battle. The settlement largely matches the demands of his lawsuit while avoiding the taxpayer cost of ongoing litigation.

“I call the settlement an exclamation point on my innocence," Swallow told FOX 13. We had the trial, they acquitted me, the state bar cleared me on ethics issues and now we’re settling with the state.”

Spokespersons for the Utah House and Senate declined to comment, directing questions to the Attorney General’s Office. State law requires that settlements in excess of $1 million be approved by the full Legislature.

Utah Gov. Gary Herbert formally called for a special session Thursday, listing seven items for consideration that included appropriations for the settlement of lawsuits against the state, as well as amendments to state laws on medical marijuana, alcohol and elections and funding for the 2020 census.

Special session agenda items are traditionally included in a call only when consensus has been reached between the two legislative chambers and the executive branch.

Swallow’s trial was the culmination of the biggest political scandal in Utah history, involving multiple investigations into two former attorneys general and their associates by state and federal law enforcement, the Utah House, Utah Attorney General’s Office and Utah Lieutenant Governor’s Office.

In addition to Swallow, criminal charges were brought against his predecessor, three-term Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, but the case against Shurtleff was ultimately dismissed.

Editor’s note FOX 13 is a content-sharing partner with The Salt Lake Tribune.