Swallow investigation intensifies, big names emerge

Posted at 6:20 PM, Mar 14, 2014
and last updated 2014-03-14 21:02:35-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- The criminal investigation into former Utah Attorney General John Swallow is intensifying, with the Salt Lake and Davis County attorneys pursuing "a fruitful investigation."

Meanwhile, two prominent political names emerged in connection with the corruption investigation: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Utah Senator Mike Lee.

In an email to FOX 13, Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings said the joint criminal investigation includes "hundreds of interviews and approaching 100,000 pages of documents and electronic data."

His counterpart in in the joint criminal probe, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, said in an interview with FOX 13 that the Utah Department of Public Safety and as many as 15 federal agents were involved in the investigation. The investigation has included recent reports from the Lt. Governor's Office and a House Special Investigative Committee, accusing Swallow of misconduct.

"What we're doing is bringing all these pieces together and then putting those pieces together to see whether the puzzle, whether the image it gives to us is within the scope of our criminal prosecution," Gill said.

The House Special Investigative Committee's investigation into Swallow was stymied in part by missing data from devices that belonged to the former attorney general. But in the joint criminal investigation by the Salt Lake and Davis County attorneys, they served search warrants on Google and Apple for data from phones, emails, backups and cloud servers from Swallow's accounts.

In response to questions from FOX 13 about those warrants, Rawlings would only hint at what they got:

"Without going into any details, names or specifics, we did get more than one bite at the apple," he wrote. "We are chewing it and digesting it."

In an interview with FOX 13, Gill put it this way: "I think what's interesting about modern technology is that it has a way of being left in spaces we don't realize."

Swallow's attorney, Rod Snow, did not return a message seeking comment on Friday. His law firm said he was out of town. He did respond to the recently released House Special Investigative Committee report.

Read Rod Snow's letter to the House Special Investigative Committee here

Read the House Special Investigative Committee report here

Gill said he hoped to have the investigation completed sometime in the next three to six months. He said Swallow and his predecessor, Mark Shurtleff, remain a focus of the investigation.

Meanwhile, two names re-emerged in connection with the Swallow scandal: Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid and Utah Senator Mike Lee. The prosecutors confirmed they shared information gleaned about the two politicians with federal authorities.

But the U.S. Department of Justice closed its investigation into Swallow last year. Rawlings wrote to FOX 13 that it was his hope they would reconsider.

"We do not have sufficient evidence to convict any United States Senator of any state crime and our focus to date has not been on that prong of allegations and information received. The current voluminous investigation into various state officials, associates or surrogates is not yet complete," he wrote.

"It is our hope that the DOJ will re-engage related to any potential federal aspects of this case. However, we will not ignore potential state ramifications. Sometimes investigations clear or exonerate individuals as well."

Rawlings insisted they are not investigating Reid or Lee at this time.

Reid's name has emerged before, when indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson accused Swallow of asking for $250,000 for a friend who had connections to Reid and could help fend off a federal investigation. Reid has denied any wrongdoing and knowledge of Johnson's case.

Lee's name came up in the recently released House Special Investigative Committee report in connection with campaign fundraising by Swallow. Questions have also been raised about whether Lee sold his home to a campaign contributor at a deep discount. The allegations were raised in a story in the Washington Times.

In a statement to FOX 13, Lee spokesman Brian Phillips said: "The article doesn't present any new information about the senator and, as it relates to his house, the senator filed all the required documentation."