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Kingston fraud case defendant faces new restrictions amid allegations of witness tampering, lawyers say

Posted at 7:11 PM, Aug 12, 2019
and last updated 2019-08-12 21:11:37-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Lawyers for Lev Dermen, the remaining defendant in the billion dollar fraud case involving members of the Kingston polygamous family, are questioning new restrictions placed on him in jail and demanding more information on allegations of witness tampering.

In a court filing obtained by FOX 13 on Monday, Dermen’s lawyer Mark Geragos asked U.S. District Court Judge Jill Parrish to explain why contact with his client had been severely restricted. Geragos said his client had also recently been moved from the Davis County Jail to Salt Lake County. In the filing, Geragos said the judge’s clerk replied to him in an email:

“I am writing to see if I can get your cell phone number and direct office number.
There has been an issue at the jail with Mr. Dermen using other inmates PIN
numbers to place phone calls and he has also been receiving a large number of
visits from one of Jacob Kingston’s wives. As a result, the jail will be
implementing restrictions on his calls and visits. Calls and visits will be limited
to attorneys of record in this case,” the email stated.

Geragos said the court filing that when he filed a public records request for more information about restrictions on Dermen’s jail calls, he received an email stating “the U.S. Marshal’s office requested the restrictions at the request of Judge Parrish
due to witness tampering in this case.”

His client was then moved from the Davis County Jail to the Salt Lake County Jail where access was even further restricted, Geragos wrote.

“Defense counsel remains in the dark about alleged witness tampering that caused the Court to modify Mr. Dermen’s pretrial detention conditions,” he wrote, referencing a note purportedly written by Jacob Kingston and questioning if that had anything to do with the restrictions on his client.

“Here, evidence regarding alleged witness tampering of witnesses the government
potentially intends to call in its case-in-chief is relevant, material, and discoverable. This category of evidence, if it exists, is relevant to bias of the witness that was the subject of the purported threat. Whether the witness became aware of the alleged threats is material to the witness’s credibility during trial if called to testify. Moreover, if the alleged threats were made by or involved a co-defendant in this case that will testify in the government’s case-in-chief, then the evidence is relevant to their credibility and constitutes impeachment evidence,” he wrote.

Geragos complained about the restrictions in the Salt Lake County Jail affecting his ability to prepare for trial, set to begin next month. The government has yet to respond to Geragos’ filing, nor has the judge scheduled a hearing in the matter.

Jacob Kingston, his wife, Sally; his mother, Rachel; and brother, Isaiah; all took plea deals last month in the massive fraud case surrounding Washakie Renewable Energy. They were accused of perpetuating a fraud scheme involving renewable fuel tax credits with the IRS. Prosecutors claim the scheme took more than a half-billion, but intended to take more than $1 billion in tax credits. Dermen, federal prosecutors have alleged, was a partner in some business deals with the Kingstons.