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New U.S. Attorney for Utah outlines his priorities

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Posted at 5:31 PM, Jul 03, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-04 00:05:11-04

SALT LAKE CITY -- Newly installed U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber describes himself as a "Utah native."

"I still live in my proud, working class neighborhood in Magna. It's who I am," he said in a recent interview with FOX 13.

A longtime prosecutor in the office recently confirmed by the U.S. Senate to the position after his nomination by President Obama, Huber is outlining his goals for the office. He said his top priority mirrors that of the U.S. Justice Department -- national security.

Beyond that, Huber told FOX 13 he would like to focus on cracking down on violent crimes -- using strict federal laws to go after gangs, guns and drugs.

"In Utah, we still have a problem, and, in fact, see a rise occasionally in our gang and gun violence issues," he said.

Huber also said he would like to see the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah become more aggressive in prosecuting white-collar crime cases, pointing to the state's reputation for being a fraud target.

"Unfortunately, the state of Utah is known around the country, if not the world, as being a fraud capital," he said. "We're too trusting a people and predators take advantage of our trusting nature."

Huber's office is still in the midst of a high-priority prosecution that has generated protest -- the trial of San Juan County Commissioner Phil Lyman, recently convicted by a jury for his role in last year's Recapture Canyon ride. Lyman and others were protesting federal road closures in rural Utah.

Some state lawmakers have kicked in their own money to support Lyman in his appeal. Huber defended his office's prosecution in his interview with FOX 13.

"We don't regret that prosecution," he said. "The rule of law is what protects all of us and all of our viewpoints in our civilized society."

The new U.S. Attorney for Utah refused to say if he will recommend jail time in addition to a fine for Lyman when he is sentenced later this month.

"Make no doubt these are serious misdemeanor offenses and they warrant a serious ramification," said Huber. "But it's up to the judge, not the prosecutor."