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Utah Opioid Task Force Convenes to Discuss the Opioid Crisis in Utah

June 26, 2019

This week, the Utah Opioid Task Force convened for their quarterly meeting to discuss the opioid crisis in Utah and consider new programs and resources.

Suicide & Opioid Addiction

Cathy Bledsoe from Hope4Utah presented to the Opioid Task Force on Hope Squads, a peer suicide prevention program. Hope Squads are made up of students elected for their kindness. These students are trained by professionals to watch for at-risk students and identify warning signs, provide friendship, and seek help from adults. The Hope Squad model was created in the late 90s by Greg Hudnall, a principal in the Provo School District who realized that too many lives were being lost and peers were an important tool in solving the problem. Data from the Provo School District has shown that these Hope Squads are invaluable in preventing suicide and that since their creation, student suicides have gone down. There are now 207 schools in Utah participating in the Hope Squad program, with new schools joining in all the time.

“Suicide is important to hear and talk about when fighting the opioid crisis,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “It’s reaching the root of the problem – that people are in pain and trying to get rid of that pain.”

Along with programs like SafeUT, Hope Squads provide support and resources to students in Utah. Suicide is one of the leading causes of death in youths ages 10-19. Utah alone is ranked 5th in the nation for suicide rates.

The Effect of Opioids on Children

Carrie Jensen from the CJC Program and Allison Smith from RIC-AAU urged the importance of understanding the effect that opioids have on children. When their parents are suffering from addiction, children are at a higher risk for having emotional, cognitive, and behavioral problems. Additionally, Jensen and Smith discussed the effects that tobacco can have on children. One particularly worrisome issue is that vape cartridges can be laced with other drugs such as Fentanyl that can have detrimental effects from addiction to death.

U of U Emergency Opioid Use Disorder Program

Peter Taillac, a Clinical Professor of Emergency Medicine with the University of Utah, and Paula Cook, an Assistant Clinical Professor of Addiction Medicine with the University of Utah, presented on the recovery programs provided by the University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI). They explained that addiction is a chronic illness and needs to be treated this way. Currently, when opioid users end up in the emergency department due to overdose or a willingness to get treatment, doctors give them resources and a referral to treatment, which users rarely follow up on. However, this new model proposes that emergency room doctors provide opioid addicts with a prescription for Buprenorphine, a medication that is used to wean users off of opioids, and schedules a follow-up for the user to meet with counselors at UNI. Users are also paired up with peer support coaches who have successfully overcome addiction and are given a case manager. UNI then provides treatment for free to the user for thirty days, after which they contact a community partner to provide housing and other resources for recovering addicts. Compared to the current practice, this model drastically reduces opioid usage of addicts and increases the number of addicts who continue long-term treatment compared. While this service is currently only available at the University Hospital, Professors Taillac and Cook are working with other medical centers to help them adopt the model.

Best of State – Public Works

This year, the Utah Opioid Task Force was honored to be the recipient of the 2018 Best of State Public Works Award. The Best of State Awards recognize outstanding individuals, organizations and businesses in Utah. More than 100 judges review the nominations and determine the winners based on achievement in the field of endeavor, innovation or creativity in approaches, techniques, methods or processes, and contribution to the quality of life in Utah.

The Utah Opioid Task Force is dedicated to combatting the opioid epidemic in Utah and works in collaboration with groups nationally and across the state to address the effects of opioid addiction. You can help combat the opioid crisis by steering clear of opioids, getting rid of unused meds, reaching out if you or someone you know is suffering from opioid addiction, learning to recognize an overdose, and learning how to use a Naloxone kit. Learn more here.


Weber County Missing Person Identified with Rapid DNA Analysis

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 21, 2019


WEBER COUNTY MISSING PERSON IDENTIFIED WITH RAPID DNA ANALYSIS

OGDEN — The identity of a Weber County man has been confirmed through Rapid DNA Analysis from remains discovered 10 months after he was reported missing by his family.

On March 17, 2019 hikers at the Ogden Nature Center reported bones they had discovered on the mountainside. The bones were found to belong to a human adult.

Rapid DNA Analysis of samples obtained from the bone confirmed the identity as 29-year-old Mark Myres of Ogden, who had been missing since May 4, 2018. The cause of death is unknown.

“The Weber County Sheriff’s Department and the AG’s Office are pleased that the use of the Rapid DNA technology is able to provide answers to Mr. Myres’ family,” said Special Agent Nate Mutter. “We’d like to express our condolences for their loss.”

Rapid DNA testing was first used by the Utah Attorney General’s Office in 2018. About the size of a printer, this technology allows law enforcement to analyze evidence on the crime scene and deliver results within a couple of hours. This timing is significantly shorter than the typical turnaround time often needed for DNA analysis.

Since its integration into the Attorney General’s Office, Rapid DNA has helped solve a myriad of cases.

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Notes:

1.       For more information on Rapid DNA visit https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/rapid-dna/.


Keep Safety in Mind When Accessing the Internet

June 20, 2019

June is National Internet Safety Month and the Utah Attorney General’s Office is urging the importance of digital security and privacy.

Whether it’s on a phone, computer, or gaming platforms, the internet can be accessed through apps, browsers, and games. The increase in the prevalence of smartphones has additionally created a rise in internet usage. According to Pew Research’s 2018 Teens, Social Media & Technology report, 45% of teens say they use the internet “almost constantly” while 44% say they go on several times a day. No matter what platform you use to access the internet, it’s important to practice digital safety.

Share with care

The internet has no delete button. Anything that you put on the internet will stay forever, even if you delete the original post. Before you post, think about who might see the picture or words, whether it be your parents or your future employer.

Make sure your internet connection is secure

Before you make that purchase or sending that sensitive information, make sure you are on a secure network. If you are in public and using an unsecured network, you have no controls over the security settings and who can monitor or access your files. Either use a virtual private network (VPN) or use your phone as a hotspot.

Keep your security software updated

Constantly having to update your software and security can be a pain, especially if it requires a restart. However, keeping your security software updated will an added layer of protection for your information and can detect and remove most malware.

Secure your accounts

Make sure you use a password or security feature to lock your phone, tablet, computer, etc. Use long and strong passwords with both capital and lowercase letters, numbers, and symbols to create a more secure password. These passwords are more difficult for cybercriminals to hack. Use a unique password rather than using the same one over and over.

Keep your privacy settings on

It might surprise you how much marketers and hackers can learn a lot about you from your browsing and social media usage. Keep privacy setting on for your social media accounts and other online accounts to keep your personal information private.

Be careful what you download

Whether it is a link in an email or pdf, cybercriminals can trick you into downloading malware to try and steal your information. This malware could even be disguised as an app. Don’t download or click on links that may looks suspicious or come from a site you don’t know and trust.

Be careful who you meet online

People are not always who they claim to be, despite what their profile picture might suggest otherwise. In fact, they might not even be real. Hackers can create fake social media profiles to gain your trust and eventually steal your information. Be cautious and sensible in all your online interactions.

Consider parental controls

There are a number of parental control options available to help you keep your kids safe when using a smartphone, tablet, or anything that can connect to the internet. From tools that filter or block certain content to software that prevents kids from sharing personal information via chat or email, you have the ability to help your children stay safe online even when you are not there. It is also important to have internet safety discussions with your children where you can go over these tips and help them make good digital habits to keep them safe.


Elder Abuse Awareness Day

June 15, 2019

Every year, millions of older persons experience elder abuse, neglect, and financial exploitation. The Utah Attorney General’s office prioritizes protecting senior citizens from suffering due to these crimes and inflictions, and our office supports efforts to increase of elder abuse. 

Like any kind of violence or neglect case, elder abuse is a criminal offense and can include physical, emotional, or sexual harm; financial exploitation, or neglect of a person’s welfare by those who are directly responsible for their care. Elder abuse can happen at their home or in institutional care settings, by family members or professional caretakers.

Our staff works tirelessly with our community partners and local law enforcement to stop elder abuse, bring the perpetrators to justice, and ensure the safety and well being of our older citizens.

The Utah Nursing Assistant Registry (UNAR), which oversees the Certified Nursing Assistant (CNA) training and certification, monitors abuse cases in Utah, blacklists those convicted of abuse, and regularly updates an abuse registry which is available to the public.

If you believe that someone you love is experiencing abuse at the hands of their provider, please contact Adult Protective Services (APS) at 1-800-371-7897.


Honoring the American Flag

June 14, 2019

Today marks the 242nd anniversary of the adoption of the American flag by the Second Continental Congress on June 14, 1777. Since then, the flag has flown over our nation as a powerful symbol of independence, freedom, and hope.

Forged in the fires of war and adversity, the American flag has blazed time and time again through the darkness of hardships in our history as a burning beacon of the indomitable spirit of its people. By honoring the flag, we honor those men and women who courageously fought and perished for this nation in order to protect your rights and freedoms and allow the flag to fly free.

In the words of Henry Ward Beecher, “A thoughtful mind, when it sees a nation’s flag, sees not the flag only, but the nation itself; and whatever may be its symbols, its insignia, he reads chiefly in the flag the government, the principles, the truths, the history which belongs to the nation that sets it forth.”

On this Flag Day, we celebrate and honor the American flag’s enduring message of freedom and hope. Together, let us all take a moment to remember those who heroically fought to protect that message and truly make America the land of the free and the home of the brave.


AGO & Partners Honored at Best of State

The Utah Attorney General’s office was thrilled to join with family and friends at the Best of State Awards Gala where we were honored to accept multiple awards in the Community Development category.

Click here for a complete list of the AG’s Best of State 2018 awards.

Additionally, the AG’s office was accompanied by DEA District-in-Charge Brian Besser and his wife, Juli, where he received the Best of State Public Safety Officer award due to his relentless work in combatting the opioid epidemic that has hit Utah both in the metro and rural areas.

John DeGrey and Barry Rose of the SafeUT Commission accepted the Best of State award for Web-Based Community Resource. SafeUT is an incredible app that has saved the lives of teens in Utah by making suicide prevention more effective by offering more resources and mental health support. The app has also helped prevent numerous school threats.

Jennie Taylor, widow of Major Brent Taylor, joined with Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and his wife, Saysha, during the Gala. Unbeknownst to Jennie, Major Taylor had won the Best of State award for Meritorious Service. In addition, he was posthumously awarded the Best of State Statue (or the BOSS), which is given to the most outstanding medal winner in their division.

Major Taylor, who served as the North Ogden mayor, made the ultimate sacrifice while serving overseas, living and dying for his love of God, country, and family. We are so grateful for his service.

We also give our sincerest thanks to all those who gave their time and energy to help make our office the Best of State.


The Best of State Awards recognize outstanding individuals, organizations and businesses in Utah. More than 100 judges review the nominations and determine the winners based on achievement in the field of endeavor, innovation or creativity in approaches, techniques, methods or processes, and contribution to the quality of life in Utah.


Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century

June 11, 2019

You might be surprised at just how much tech companies know about you these days, and how easily companies cooperate to link your personal information (address, phone number, email, social media) to your shopping habits, financial information, political affiliation, recreational and workout habits—even the route you take to and from work.

Relatively few companies have the power to profit from this information efficiently, and there is growing concern that big market power can result in collusive, exclusionary or predatory conduct or conduct that might even violate consumer protection laws.

That’s why the Utah Attorney General’s office is part of a nationwide effort to investigate the ways that explosive expansion of technology is affecting consumer privacy, competition in technology platform markets, mergers and acquisitions, sales of data, and more.  Follow this link to the agenda and hearings “Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century.”

On Wednesday June 10, 2019, Deputy Attorney General David Sonnenreich (Antitrust Section) will participate in a hearing that will bring 43 other Attorneys General together with the Federal Trade Commission (FTC) to investigate what action should be taken to address these concerns.

Sonnenreich is scheduled to testify at 10:25 am.

Follow this link to the hearing while it is happening.


Notes:

This letter from 43 Attorneys General Details topics and concerns regarding Competition and Consumer protection in the 21st Century.  (put in NAAG link)

Roundtable agenda and streaming link https://www.ftc.gov/news-events/events-calendar/ftc-hearing-14-roundtable-state-attorneys-general

Here is a link to the FTC’s main page for its Hearings on Competition and Consumer Protection in the 21st Century:  https://www.ftc.gov/policy/hearings-competition-consumer-protection


Man Sentenced to Federal Prison for Traveling to Engage in Sexual Acts with a Minor

June 10, 2019

On Friday, James Allen Wynhoff was sentenced to 48 months in federal prison on one felony count of traveling to engage in sexual acts with a minor as well as felony and misdemeanor drug offenses. Wynhoff was arrested last November during an undercover operation by the Utah Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force.

Wynhoff is originally from Las Vegas but was arrested in Washington County when he arrived at the location where he was allegedly going to meet with a minor. His arresting charges included possessing marijuana with intent to distribute, owning drug paraphernalia, and enticing a minor.

Initially, Wynhoff was charged in state court with a second-degree felony; however, those charges were dismissed when he pled guilty in federal court with one count of traveling to engage in sexual acts with a minor after he crossed state lines.

The court additionally ordered Wynhoff to undergo a sex offender treatment, and a “Residential Drug Abuse Program,” which is an intensive nine-month, 500-hour substance abuse rehabilitation program. He will be imprisoned in either Englewood, Colorado or Segoville, Texas in order to facilitate the required treatments. Wynhoff will be registered as a sex offender.


News coverage of the ICAC Operation:

St. George News: Police arrest 7 men accused of attempting to meet boys, girls for sex
The Spectrum: 7 men accused of trying to meet with minors for sex in Washington County
KUTV: 6 men arrested for attempting to meet minors for sex in Washington County
ABC4: 7 men arrested accused of trying to meet minors for sex


Utah Joins Multi-state Coalition to Unseal Generic Drug Price Fixing Complaint

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
June 7, 2019

UTAH JOINS 44-STATE COALITION IN MOTION TO UNSEAL GENERIC DRUG PRICE FIXING COMPLAINT

Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined a 44-state coalition in a motion to unseal their complaint against Teva Pharmaceuticals and 19 of the nation’s largest generic drug manufacturers. The complaint, filed on May 10 in U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut, alleges a broad conspiracy to artificially inflate and manipulate prices, reduce competition, and unreasonably restrain trade for more than 100 different drugs.

“I have heard the complaints of Utahans about these inflated drug prices and how this affects their quality of life and ability to obtain medicine they desperately need. My joint action with other state AG’s directly addresses these concerns. Unsealing this complaint and the redacted emails and records will bring answers to Utahans and other concerned Americans and help us hold pharmaceutical companies accountable for their abusive schemes that have negatively impacted so many people across the nation,” said Attorney General Reyes.

This complaint is the second to be filed in an ongoing, expanding investigation that the Connecticut Office of the Attorney General has referred to as possibly the largest cartel case in the history of the United States. The first complaint was similarly filed under seal initially and later released in full with permission from the court. 

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Celebrating its 75th anniversary, D-Day remains in the hearts of Americans

June 6, 2019

Today on the 75th anniversary of D-Day, we remember and honor the valiant men and women who gave the ultimate sacrifice to protect our lives and liberties.

Americans should always remember the anniversary of D-Day. It was a show of the allegiance between America, Britain, Canada, and France with a huge force of more than 150,000 soldiers. D-Day acted as a turning point in World War II and allowed the Allies to finally defeat Germany. 

Many Americans have traveled to France to visit Omaha Beach – the very shores where those troops landed, and where many lost their lives. Now it resides as a place of reflection and remembrance.


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