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Ex-AG Mark Shurtleff accepts $600K settlement from Utah

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has accepted a $600,000 settlement from the state to pay for legal fees accrued when he defended himself against bribery charges that were dropped before trial, officials said.

Shurtleff, a Republican, sought $1.1 million in legal fees when he sued the state of Utah in 2017 but told the Deseret News on Wednesday it’s time to move on.

“I get substantially less than what I ended up paying,” Shurtleff said.

The agreement is pending formal approval from a legislative committee later this month.

Republican Gov. Gary Herbert’s spokeswoman, Anna Lehnardt, said the governor had signed off on the agreement with Shurtleff but declined to comment further. Utah House Speaker Brad Wilson, a Republican, said in a statement that the settlement was negotiated by the office of current Attorney General Sean Reyes, and will be reviewed at an Oct. 16 meeting.

Reyes, a Republican, had no comment on the settlement.

Shurtleff, a three-term attorney general, was arrested in 2014 and charged with obstructing justice and accepting improper gifts such as beach vacations from businessmen in trouble with regulators. His successor, John Swallow, was also accused in the pay-to-play scheme.

Shurtleff pleaded not guilty to the charges and denied any wrongdoing.

Charges against Shurtleff were surprisingly dropped in 2016. Prosecutors at the time pointed to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the bribery conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell that they said narrowed the scope of charges in influence-peddling cases.

Swallow’s case went to trial, where a jury acquitted him of bribery. Earlier this month, the Utah legislature approved a $1.5 million settlement for Swallow.

The settlement does not end a separate, multimillion-dollar civil rights lawsuit filed against law enforcement by Shurtleff last year, in which he accused authorities of causing him emotional distress and humiliation for their role in the investigation that led to his 2014 arrest.

The law enforcement agencies being sued have defended their actions. The case is pending.
Shurtleff said he would keep about $60,000 and use the rest of the settlement, $540,000, to pay off his remaining legal bills, he said.
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Information from: Deseret News, http://www.deseretnews.com