Swallow wants charges tossed, claims prosecutors lost a taped interview with a key witness

Posted at 3:48 PM, Nov 03, 2016
and last updated 2016-11-03 17:48:00-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Former Utah Attorney General John Swallow’s defense lawyers want some of the criminal charges against him dismissed, arguing in a new court filing that prosecutors lost a taped interview with a key witness.

The interview is with St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, who is currently serving a federal prison sentence in connection with a credit card fraud case. It was Johnson who first spoke out against Swallow in 2013, claiming the attorney general asked for money to bribe Nevada Sen. Harry Reid as Johnson faced a federal investigation.

Swallow has repeatedly denied wrongdoing but resigned after about a year in office. He is facing criminal charges accusing him of essentially accepting gifts and donations from people facing investigation by the Utah Attorney General’s Office.

Swallow’s defense attorney Scott Williams wrote in the court motion that when he sought the initial interview that Johnson gave to investigators, it was not available.

“The recording of the first—and arguably the most important interview has never been provided. Mr. Johnson denies that he or his attorneys have it in their possession. Apparently, case agent Scott Nesbitt also denies he is in possession of the recording,” Williams wrote.

Swallow’s defense team argues that the tape is critical to their case and their ability to challenge Johnson’s accusations in court.

“The claims made by Mr. Johnson form the very bedrock of the entire case pending against Mr. Swallow. Without access to a tape recording that, according to Mr. Johnson himself, likely contains exculpatory material, Mr. Swallow is deprived of a full and fair opportunity to
mount his defense and attack the State’s case,” Williams wrote.

In a separate filing, Williams asked the judge to dismiss the bribery charges against Swallow citing a U.S. Supreme Court ruling involving former Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell. Swallow is also appealing a judge’s decision not to toss the case over accusations that prosecutors read privileged emails. Prosecutors in that instance have denied any wrongdoing.