Former AG John Swallow sues Utah for reimbursement of legal costs in corruption case

Posted at 6:50 PM, Feb 28, 2018
and last updated 2018-02-28 20:50:37-05

SALT LAKE CITY -- Former Attorney General John Swallow is suing the state of Utah, seeking reimbursement for the $1.5 million he spent defending himself against corruption charges he was eventually acquitted of.

"I'm clearly entitled. I clearly qualify. I'm clearly eligible, and I have no choice but to sue the state," Swallow said.

Swallow said he’s spent most of his savings on his defense.

“We went into our retirement funds," he said. "We had to borrow money on our home equity and borrow money from others as well, and that’s very personal to get into that, but it was not easy."

He claims he's eligible under a state statute that says public servants can be reimbursed if they're acquitted, but Attorney General Sean Reyes denied the request.

“They denied it and said I wasn't eligible for a silly reason," Swallow said. "They said I wasn't eligible because I wasn't the Attorney General anymore. I had resigned three years earlier."

Swallow's predecessor, Mark Shurtleff, is also suing for reimbursement.

“The judge ruled in the Shurtleff case that it’s not a requirement to be in office at the time of acquittal for you to qualify, so that question has already been answered—which is what is frustrating to me,” Swallow said.

Both Swallow and Shurtleff faced criminal corruption charges, including bribery, misuse of public money, evidence tampering and obstruction of justice.

“None of it was true," Swallow said. "I was innocent. I was falsely accused. I was wrongly charged."

Swallow was exonerated, but Salt Lake County Attorney Sim Gill has no regrets about prosecuting.

“When those kind of serious allegations occur, either you have the courage and conviction to prosecute those cases because our citizens and our communities deserve that finality, or we don't have the courage to do that,” Gill said.

However, Gill also says Swallow has every right to file this lawsuit.

“I'm a huge supporter of process: Everybody deserves due process," he said. "Everybody gets to exercise their rights, and so he's doing exactly that."

Fox 13 reached out to Attorney General Sean Reyes for a response to this lawsuit but hasn’t heard back.