Swallow, Shurtleff facing allegations of taking favors from man convicted of fraud

Posted at 5:48 PM, May 09, 2013
and last updated 2013-05-09 23:52:12-04

SALT LAKE CITY - Current Attorney General John Swallow and his predecessor Mark Shurtleff are facing allegations of taking favors from a man prosecuted under Shurtleff's administration.

Their accuser is Marc Jenson, who is currently in the Utah State Prison on a 10-year sentence after being convicted for defrauding investors out of millions of dollars.

Swallow admits to taking trips to Pelican Hill, an upscale southern California resort where Jenson had a villa. Jenson says he also has receipts showing both men signed for food and other luxuries while staying at the resort.

"John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff both knew that I was not only paying Tim because Mark Shurtleff asked me to but also that that's where I lived and there was no way they could think any other way," said Jenson. "The way Pelican Hill works is for example when they would go to the pro shop and buy themselves gifts or go to the pro shop or go golfing, the receipt would come in the name of the registered guests and so the receipts would be in my name Jenson."

Jenson says Swallow and Shurtleff took two trips in 2009 and Swallow took a third.

He says he didn't consider either of the men friends, but that both suggested he needed to court their favor. They even said that if Jenson had donated to Shurtleff's campaign, they would know his name and wouldn't have prosecuted him.

Swallow's private attorney Rod Snow tells FOX 13 that Jenson doesn't deserve this attention.

"I guess you're all going to take the word of a man convicted of fraud and treat it as credible," Snow said. "John's never denied he went to California. He was an attorney in private practice, there's nothing wrong with that."

But Marc Jenson says Swallow represented himself as the attorney general-in-waiting.

"John pulled me aside and said, 'Listen, it's great that you're introducing Mark to all these people, and he's here trying to raise all this money, but I'm going to be the next AG and I want to be alone with you and I want to meet your people, and by the way I'm going to bring your wife because she wants a vacation,'" Jenson said.

Shurtleff didn't respond to FOX 13 requests for comment, but his friend and self-dubbed "political fixer" Tim Lawson says Jenson's allegations are false.

Lawson says he invited Shurtleff and Swallow down and paid for their plain tickets. He says the villa was a perk to him as part of his work for Jenson.

"I've heard all these stories that never happened. I was there," Lawson said. "Everything I did there was paid for by the Villa, whether that's Jenson or the LLC he formed with his partner, I don't know."

Swallow is already facing allegations of soliciting bribes in the federal fraud case of businessman Jeremy Johnson and allegations of ethics violations from the director of the Utah Division of Consumer Protection.

Utah Democrats are calling on Governor Herbert to appoint a special prosecutor to look at the allegations against Swallow more closely.

"The truth is Republicans - the hierarchy of the Republican Party - they don't want anything to do with this. They want to say, 'Well, we don't know anything about it. It's the U.S. Attorney.' this is Utah's attorney general. Where's the leadership? And it just seems to be missing," said Jim Dabakis, chair for Utah's Democratic Party.

In response, Herbert said:

"The u.S. Attorney's Office and Department of Justice are presently conducting an independent investigation. And it is only prudent to allow that process to work before duplicating efforts with a redundant state process."

"Further politicizing this situation with every fresh news story is not necessarily in the best interest of the people of Utah."