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Sean D. Reyes
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Today, we honor Martin Luther King for his leadership and courage in fighting for the civil rights of all Americans.

“We in the Utah Attorney General’s Office are deeply appreciative to Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. as we join our nation in celebrating his life and work today. He was a great American, willing to turn us towards the better angels of our nature while he faced the demons of discrimination.

“Dr. King is probably best remembered by the casual observer for his soaring speeches that moved so many by the strength and majesty of his words. While that was an important element of his allure, it was what underlies those words that were truly remarkable: his courage, conviction, and commitment to lifting all people from oppression.

“He took his own pain and generations of suffering from his people and channeled it into energy that transformed him into a supernova of change and progress. And our country is the better for it. It was truly a half-century ago when he delivered his ‘I have a dream’ speech to the 250,000 people who had joined him for the March on Washington and it is equally true today as we strive to fulfill the hope and promise of his words.

“In many ways, the dream that Dr. King spoke of was the same one that brought the pilgrims to America, that drove the Founding Fathers to declare their independence, that prompted Abraham Lincoln to issue the Emancipation Proclamation, and that continues to urge us forward today as we reach out the hand of fellowship to the afflicted and weary, the vulnerable and the weak. It was this dream–this hope–that brought my father to America to escape political persecution and that motivated my mother, a career educator, to fight for equal educational opportunity in at-risk and inner-city environments.

“As a nation set on a hill, we have been blessed with great prosperity, and yet, there remains work to do. Whether it is providing shelter to the homeless, aid to refugees here and abroad, seeking to give relief to those in addiction’s grasp, finding long-term solutions to intergenerational poverty, or continuing the fight against modern slavery and human trafficking, with each stride forward we seek to fulfill the dream of Dr. King.

“Dr. King once said that ‘The ultimate measure of a man is not where he stands in moments of comfort and convenience, but where he stands at times of challenge and controversy.’ It is my hope, and my own dream, that Americans will always be willing to stand for what is right at all times. As we celebrate Martin Luther King, Jr. Day and seek to bring about a nation where children are judged not ‘by the color of their skin, but by the content of their character,’ only continued remembrance of where we have come from, and where we are going, will bring us to that day when Dr. King’s great dream is brought fully to life.”

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Related

AG Reyes Has Deep Gratitude for MLK’s Legacy and Influence on His Own Family’s HistoryJanuary 18, 2016In “Archived Posts”

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.January 21, 2019In “Recent Posts”

Remembering Martin Luther King, Jr.January 20, 2020In “Recent Posts”This entry was posted in Archived P


Mixed Ruling by SCOTUS in Vaccine Mandate Cases

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes had a mixed reaction to the United States Supreme Court rulings on federal vaccine mandates for large businesses and healthcare workers.

In its decisions, the justices ruled to uphold the stay (hold) on the OSHA mandate, affecting businesses with more than 100 employees, but rejected the stay in the Centers for Medicare Services (CMS) case involving healthcare workers. The ruling means that employers will be prevented from having to force employees to be vaccinated, while healthcare workers will face a new deadline to comply with the mandate.

Attorney General Reyes issued the following statement upon learning of the Court’s findings:

“The Supreme Court’s rejection of the OSHA mandate is a true victory for all Americans who believe in the rule of law,” said Attorney General Reyes. “There is no workaround when it comes to the Constitution—the federal government cannot dictate its policies where it lacks statutory authority. These liberties are not negotiable.”

Reyes continued: “We are extremely disappointed, however, in the Court’s decision involving healthcare workers. As the four dissenting justices correctly note, a ‘hodgepodge’ of statutes does not authorize the Secretary to force healthcare workers to undergo a medical procedure. And we share the dissenting justices’ concern that this decision will have a lasting negative impact on future agency decisionmaking.”

“I want to thank all of our sister states who joined us in this fight. Due to the hard work of AG Offices around the country, business owners and millions of their employees, for now, are protected from unprecedented executive overreach. We sympathize with medical workers who deserve to also be protected but will not be after today.”

Read the OSHA ruling here.

Read the CMS ruling here.

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Utah Continues to Work to Stop International Scam Calls

SALT LAKE CITY — Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and Department of Commerce Executive Director Margaret Busse today urged the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) to put in place measures that will help stem the tide of foreign-based illegal robocalls that attempt to scam Americans.

“Robocalls and Auto-texts seem to be proliferating at a greater rate than ever,” said Attorney General Reyes. “Everyone agrees they are inconvenient at best. At worst, and far too often, they are much more damaging than even the annoyance they present. These scams prey on vulnerable Utahns who are tricked into responding by answering or clicking a link. We must do even more at the federal level to crack down on overseas violators who are evading enforcement of our laws.”

“We gladly partner with the Utah Attorney General’s office to continue the battle against illegal robocalls,” said Department of Commerce Executive Director Margaret Busse. ” All of us are tired of these calls that prey on consumers and erode trust in the legitimate calls we receive to our homes and cell phones. There is not a magic bullet to solve the problem, but we will continue to support every measure to stem the tide of these harmful and annoying calls.”

Attorney General Reyes and a bipartisan group of 51 attorneys general are calling for the FCC to require gateway providers – the companies that allow foreign calls into the United States – to take steps to reduce how easily robocalls have been able to enter the U.S. telephone network, including implementing STIR/SHAKEN, a caller ID authentication technology that helps prevent spoofed calls. Gateway providers should be required to implement this technology within 30 days of it becoming a rule to help eliminate spoofed calls and to make sure that international calls that originate from U.S. telephone numbers are legitimate. In December, Attorney General [NAME] and a coalition of 51 attorneys general successfully helped to persuade the FCC to shorten by a year the deadline for smaller telephone companies to implement STIR/SHAKEN.

The attorneys general are asking the FCC to require these gateway providers to take additional measures to reduce robocalls, including:

  • Responding to requests from law enforcement, state attorneys general, or the FCC to trace back calls within 24 hours.
  • Blocking calls when providers are aware of an illegal or likely fraudulent caller.
  • Blocking calls that originate from numbers that are on a “do not originate” list – such as government phone numbers that are for incoming calls only.
  • Ensuring that foreign telephone companies they partner with are ensuring that calls are being made from legitimate numbers.

The attorneys general are also encouraging the FCC to require all phone companies to block calls from a gateway provider if it fails to meet these requirements. Illegal robocalls are a scourge – in 2020, Americans lost more than $520 million through robocall scams.

Attorney General Reyes is joined in sending this letter to the FCC by the Attorneys General of Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, Arkansas, California, Colorado, Connecticut, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Indiana, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

A copy of the letter is available HERE.

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Utah Attorney General’s Office and Human Trafficking Awareness Day.

Defined: Human trafficking is a modern-day form of slavery involving the illegal trade of people for exploitation or commercial gain.

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes reaffirmed his commitment to fight against human trafficking and continues to lead In the state of Uth to aggressively fight it.  The AG’s office has participated in education campaigns, support of anti-human trafficking legislation, victim recovery and advocacy.  This is accomplished through grassroots and non-governmental organizations efforts, partnerships with local law enforcement officers and agencies, as well as work initiated by his office through the Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force and prosecutors of the Utah SECURE Strike Force. 

Every year, millions of men, women, and children are trafficked in countries around the world, including the United States. It is estimated that human trafficking is a $32 billion per year industry, second only to drug trafficking as the most profitable form of transnational crime.

Human trafficking is a hidden crime, as victims rarely come forward to seek help because of language barriers, fear of the traffickers, and/or fear of law enforcement.

Traffickers use force, fraud, or coercion to lure their victims and force them into labor or commercial sexual exploitation. They look for people who are vulnerable for a variety of reasons, including economic hardship, natural disasters, or political instability. The trauma can be so great that many may not identify themselves as victims or ask for help, even in highly public settings. 

Trafficker tactics:

  • Using violence or threatening the person or person’s family members;
  • Harming or depriving the person of basic necessities, such as food, water, or sleep;
  • Making false promises of love or companionship;
  • Making false promises of a good job and home;
  • Restricting contact with friends or family;
  • Limiting freedom of movement;
  • Controlling the person’s identification documents;
  • Threatening deportation or law enforcement action; or
  • Garnishing the person’s salary to pay off alleged debts.

INDICATORS 

Recognizing key indicators of human trafficking is the first step in identifying victims and can help save a life. Not all indicators listed below are present in every human trafficking situation, and the presence or absence of any of the indicators is not necessarily proof of human trafficking. The safety of the public, as well as the victim, is paramount. Do not attempt to confront a suspected trafficker directly or alert a victim to any suspicions. It is up to law enforcement to investigate suspected cases of human trafficking.

  • Does the person appear disconnected from family, friends, community organizations, or houses of worship?
  • Has a child stopped attending school?
  • Has the person had a sudden or dramatic change in behavior?
  • Is a juvenile engaging in commercial sex acts?
  • Is the person disoriented or confused or showing signs of mental or physical abuse?
  • Does the person have bruises in various stages of healing?
  • Is the person fearful, timid, or submissive?
  • Is the person often in the company of someone to whom he or she defers? Or someone who seems to be in control of the situation, e.g., where they go or who they talk to?
  • Does the person appear to be coached on what to say?
  • Is the person living in unsuitable conditions?
  • Does the person lack personal possessions and appear not to have a stable living situation?
  • Does the person have freedom of movement? Can the person freely leave where they live?

Although human smuggling is very different from human trafficking, human smuggling can turn into trafficking if the smuggler uses force, fraud, or coercion to hold people against their will for the purposes of labor or sexual exploitation. Under federal law, every minor induced to engage in commercial sex is a victim of human trafficking.

 Myths and Misconceptions

Many misconceptions exist about human trafficking. For example, people think it only occurs abroad; that victims are only foreign-born or impoverished individuals; that traffickers are always strangers; and that victims always have visible chains.

Myth #1: Human trafficking does not occur in the United States. It only happens in other countries.
Fact: Human trafficking exists in every country, including the United States. It exists nationwide–in cities, suburbs, and rural towns–and probably in your own community.

Myth #2: Human trafficking victims are only foreign-born individuals and those who are poor.
Fact: Human trafficking victims can be of any age, race, gender, or nationality: young children, teenagers, women, men, runaways, United States citizens, and foreign-born individuals. 

Myth #3: Human trafficking is only sex trafficking.
Fact: You may have heard about sex trafficking, but forced labor is also a significant and prevalent type of human trafficking. Victims are found in legitimate and illegitimate labor industries, including sweatshops, massage parlors, agriculture, restaurants, hotels, and domestic service. Note that sex trafficking and forced labor are both forms of human trafficking, involving the exploitation of a person.

Myth #4: Individuals must be forced or coerced into commercial sex acts to be a victim of human trafficking.
Fact: According to U.S. federal law, any minor under the age of 18 who is induced to perform commercial sex acts is a victim of human trafficking, regardless of whether he or she is forced or coerced.

Myth #5: Human trafficking and human smuggling are the same.
Fact: Human trafficking is not the same as smuggling. “Trafficking” is exploitation-based and does not require movement across borders. “Smuggling” is movement-based and involves moving a person across a country’s border with that person’s consent, in violation of immigration laws.

Myth #6: All human trafficking victims attempt to seek help when in public.
Fact: Human trafficking is often a hidden crime. Victims may be afraid to come forward and get help; they may be forced or coerced through threats or violence; they may fear retribution from traffickers, including danger to their families; and they may not be in possession or have control of the identification documents.

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Illegal Gambling Bust in Roy

ROY — Today, the Utah Attorney General’s office CASE task force (Crimes Against Statewide Economy) worked closely with Roy Police to halt a gambling operation at the TEXACO gas station, located at 4395 South 1900 West. Undercover agents had been observing the location for months, documenting evidence of illegal activity before obtaining a search warrant.

 30-year-old Neel Jagdish Patel has been arrested and charged with 20 counts of Fringe Gambling Devices, one count of money laundering, and one count of Pattern of Unlawful Activity.  Read the Probable Cause Statement here.

Patel owned the Texaco since 2018, and charges indicate he oversaw gambling operations the whole time.  Undercover detectives played the gaming devices and were illegally paid in cash as a payout for winning on the devices.  This was part of the gas station’s standard of operation.  During questioning, Patel admitted to operating the gambling devices, and that cash from the devices is mixed and deposited with everyday proceeds from the convenience store. 

Detectives seized 20 video game-style machines that were used for betting and seized several large bags of cash from the location. The location was well known to police and had a negative reputation in the community for frequent visits from law enforcement for various situations.

The CASE Task Force is made up of multiple law enforcement agencies across the state. Officers from the Department of Public Safety West Valley City and West Jordan Police department assisted in this case. Pictures of the bust: MoneyThe Scene, Gambling Machines.Close-up Money, Close-up Gambling Machines. 

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AG Reyes Fights Vaccine Mandate at Supreme Court

SALT LAKE CITY – Today, after weeks of preparation, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and Solicitor General Melissa Holyoak joined attorneys general from across the United States in taking the OSHA and CMS Vaccine Mandate cases to the United States Supreme Court. The Court is examining whether mandates for employers of more than 100 people as well as for healthcare workers are unconstitutional.

“We all want to protect our family, neighbors, and co-workers. In fact, Utah leaders have encouraged vaccines. But, forcing vaccines on workers through mandates is improper and represents federal executive overreach at its worst,” said Attorney General Reyes. 

“We have heard the urgent pleas of an overwhelming majority of Utahns to oppose these mandates. My team and I have worked hard on our Supreme Court case for an immediate stay and eventual ruling on the merits that the mandates are unconstitutional, AG Reyes added.”

The two cases that the Supreme Court heard today Ohio v. Dept. of Labor, No. 21A244, and Biden v. Missouri, No. 24A240.

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Vaccine Mandate for Healthcare Workers Before U.S. Supreme Court

WASHINGTON D.C. — Today, the United States Supreme Court is hearing arguments in the lawsuit to stop the federal government’s attempt to force COVID-19 vaccines on health care workers. Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, Solicitor General Mellissa Holyoak, and former Solicitor General Tyler Green are all part of the team responsible for legal briefs and preparing for the oral argument in opposition to the vaccine mandates.

“We hope all our work for Utahns in encouraging vaccines but resisting unconstitutional vaccine mandates results in a stay after today’s arguments and later in the high court striking down these mandates,” said Attorney General Reyes.

The Supreme Court is expected to decide whether to issue a stay of the injunctions issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Missouri and the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Louisiana blocking the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services rule that requires all healthcare workers at facilities that participate in Medicare and Medicaid programs to be fully vaccinated against COVID-19 unless they are eligible for medical or religious exemption.

The mandate exceeds CMS’s statutory authority and violates numerous federal laws.
The Biden Administration has acted without statutory authority, violated the Administrative Procedure Act, violated the Social Security Act, violated the Congressional Review Act, and violated the Constitution.

The mandate threatens the jobs of millions of our healthcare heroes.
In their attempt to co-opt the Medicare and Medicaid system to impose a vaccine on 17 million healthcare workers, the Biden Administration completely ignores the unprecedented labor shortage prevailing in the healthcare sector and patient wellbeing in favor of the President’s ambition to increase societal vaccination rates.

The unconstitutional CMS mandate would create healthcare shortages, upend state budgets.
The mandate causes grave danger to the vulnerable persons whom Medicare and Medicaid were designed to protect – the poor, children, sick, and the elderly – by forcing the termination of millions of essential health care workers. In addition to jeopardizing the health care interests of countless Americans, it puts billions of dollars of state funding at risk. In Missouri, several rural hospitals and health care organizations – the Missouri Health Care Association, the Scotland County Hospital, the Monroe City Manor Care Center, the Scotland County Care Center, the Missouri Department of Mental Health, the Clarence Care Center, the Loch Haven Nursing Home, and the La Plata Nursing Home – have all stated that the CMS vaccine mandate could lead to potentially devastating staff shortages and loss of critical care.

You can watch and monitor the arguments on CSPAN and online via the SCOTUS Blog.

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meat

AG Reyes urges USDA to strengthen competition in meatpacking

SALT LAKE CITY — Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a bipartisan coalition of 16 attorneys general in making recommendations to U.S. Department of Agriculture Secretary Tom Vilsack to improve competition in the meat processing industry, which will help Utah farmers, ranchers, and consumers.

In a letter to Secretary Vilsack, Attorney General Reyes raises concerns about the increasing market concentration in meatpacking and offers ­­solutions to aid USDA in efforts to strengthen enforcement under the Packers and Stockyards Act.

The Packers and Stockyards Act, which dates to 1921, was intended to address unfair, deceptive, and anti-competitive practices in meat markets. Over time, however, corporate consolidation has led to less competition for producers’ livestock and poultry. In 1977, the four largest beef packers only accounted for 25% of the market, but as of 2018, the four largest packers controlled 85% of the market. Similarly, in 1976, the four largest processors of pork controlled 33% of the market, while in 2018, the largest four processors accounted for 70% of the market. The result has weakened prices, forced many producers from the market, and reduced the number of livestock farms and ranches. This market consolidation hurts both Utah farmers and consumers.

Without increased enforcement and government oversight, the promise of the Packers and Stockyard Act is in jeopardy. In the letter, Attorney General Reyes and the bipartisan coalition offer a number of recommendations to Secretary Vilsack and Andrew Green, USDA Senior Advisor for Fair and Competitive Markets. Those recommendations include asking them to:

  • Consider how increased concentration and related mergers have resulted in meat packers’ ability to charge higher prices to consumers, while paying producers less for their livestock and poultry;
  • Consider using funds appropriated through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 to establish a grant that state antitrust enforcers could use to investigate and bring actions in agricultural markets; 
  • Move forward with an investment of more than $500 million to support and incentivize new competitive entrants in meat and poultry processing, as well as smaller facilities;
  • Review reforms for cash market procurement minimums proposed by the various producer organizations;
  • Consider reforms for exclusive contracts, such as alternative marketing arrangements, including fixed base prices, public disclosure, and bidding;
  • Update regulations governing what information companies are allowed to collect and share for profit;
  • Follow through with plans to propose “a rule to clarify that parties do not need to demonstrate harm to competition in order to bring an action under section 202 (a) and 202 (b) of the P&S Act;”
  • Consider establishing an Agricultural Markets Integrity Working Group, bringing together leaders from the various agencies to discuss issues in the market.

Attorney General Reyes was joined in the letter to Secretary Vilsack by the attorneys general of California, Delaware, Hawaii, Idaho, Illinois, Maryland, Nevada, New Mexico, North Dakota, Oregon, Rhode Island, South Dakota, in addition to Minnesota Attorney General Ellison, Wyoming Attorney General Hill, and Iowa Attorney General Miller.

A copy of the letter is available here.

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Update: Judge Blocks Vaccine Mandate for Head Start Teachers

SALT LAKE CITY — Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announced that a preliminary injunction has been issued, blocking the government mandate requiring COVID-19 vaccinations for workers in the federal Head Start early education program.

Utah is one of 24 states challenging the mandate that Head Start students age 2 or older wear masks while indoors or in close contact with others. The order only applies in those states, not nationwide. The judge issued the preliminary injunction on January 1, 2022, (New Year’s Day).

Updates will follow as this and the other vaccine mandate cases progress.

Read a copy of the injunction here.

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AG’s Office Investigators Target Porch Pirates

SALT LAKE COUNTY — This Christmas season is filled with joy and togetherness, but it is commonly disturbed by people who steal packages delivered to homes across Utah. It’s an increasing problem year-round, and the AG’s office Investigators are working to send a message to the thieves: Don’t steal!

To find out more about how our investigators are doing this, watch this news story:


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