Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff pleads not guilty to charges

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Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff pleaded not guilty to five felonies and two misdemeanor charges on Monday, June 29, 2015, in Salt Lake’s Third District Court.

The Associated Press
Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, left, enters the courtroom with his lawyer, Richard Van Wagoner, in Salt Lake City on Monday, June 29, 2015. Shurtleff pleaded not guilty Monday to seven charges of obstructing justice, accepting improper gifts such as beach vacations, and other charges. If convicted, he faces up to 30 years in prison. (Al Hartmann/The Salt Lake Tribune via AP, Pool)

The FBI arrested Shurtleff and former Utah Attorney General John Swallow July 15, 2014, as a response to allegations of corruption and bribery. Shurtleff’s plea echoes his claim to innocence made since the beginning of the allegations since 2011. Since resigning from his attorney general position January 2013, Shurtleff has worked at a Washington D.C. law firm and has recently opened up his own criminal defense law practice in Salt Lake City despite impending allegations.

Shurtleff made no comment during his five-minute hearing, leaving his attorney, Richard Van Wagoner, to make Shurtleff’s case.

Rides in private jets, free accommodations at expensive resorts and accepting bribes as a pay-to-play scenario are included in the allegations against Shurtleff. Prosecutors dropped three charges from the previous ten against him on June 15 when further investigation proved them unnecessary. According to The Associated Press, prosecutors dropped three of these charges without explanation.

“During 12 years as utah attorney general, my personal motto was ‘the people’s good is the highest law,'” Shurtleff said in a YouTube ad for his firm.

Both Shurtleff and Swallow are members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are BYU alumni. Both are also alumni of the two biggest law schools in Utah: Swallow earned his juris doctorate at BYU’s J. Reuben Clark Law School, while Shurtleff earned his at the University of Utah’s S.J. Quinney College of Law.

Both Shurtleff and Swallow still face up to 30 years in prison if convicted.

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