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Purdue Pharma Files For Bankruptcy, Consistent with Settlement Framework

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 16, 2019

Purdue Pharma Files For Bankruptcy, Consistent with Settlement Framework

SALT LAKE CITY — Purdue Pharma announced today it has filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy in the United States Bankruptcy Court for the Southern District of New York, on behalf of itself and its affiliated U.S. companies.

This bankruptcy has been anticipated for some time. This bankruptcy filing is consistent with the settlement framework agreed upon by a bipartisan group of 29 attorneys general, including Sean D. Reyes, over 2,000 cities and counties, Purdue Pharma, and Purdue’s owners.

Pursuant to that framework, and with the approval of the bankruptcy court, this bankruptcy means Purdue will no longer exist. It will never again make, sell, or market another opioid product in the United States or anywhere in the world.

In accord with the framework:

  • The Sackler family will give up not only Purdue but also all the family’s international pharmaceutical holdings.
  • The proceeds of those sales are guaranteed to provide billions of dollars to the States and other plaintiffs to help address the devastation of the opioid epidemic.
  •  By the terms of the framework, the Sacklers will be out of the pharmaceutical industry forever.

No other plan on the table has any assurance of accomplishing these things.

These pharmaceutical companies have been the foundation of the Sackler family fortune. The liquidation of these assets will convert a huge portion of the Sacklers’ wealth into resources for our communities.

While the end of Purdue marks an important moment in the struggle against the opioid epidemic, there is much work yet to be done. Our office, along with all the states and subdivisions supporting this settlement, will continue our investigation and litigation against all other parties responsible for this epidemic.

“Purdue was morally bankrupt and now it is legally so,” said Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “Although there is no dollar amount that will undo the pain and suffering so many families have endured, I’m focused on getting resources to Utahns as quickly as possible.

“We’ve known for some time that bankruptcy was a likely outcome in this case. That is why we have worked so urgently as attorneys general to negotiate a proposed plan that would bring immediate relief and long-term resources to local communities across our states to prevent further devastation from this opioid threat. 

“Our plan also assures the Sacklers are out of pharmaceuticals and Purdue is out of business. Additionally, any assets that can be sold will yield potentially lifesaving treatment, recovery, prevention and education dollars to Utah and its counties and cities. 

I’m pleased to serve as one of nine attorneys general on the ad hoc committee to represent the interests of the states in this proceeding.”

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Weapons, Drugs, Cash, Phony Social Security Cards Seized in SECURE Case

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 13, 2019
 
 

WEAPONS, DRUGS, CASH, PHONY SOCIAL SECURITY CARDS SEIZED IN SECURE CASE
Three Charged in Investigations Led by Utah AG’s Office
 

SALT LAKE CITY – This week, the Utah Attorney General’s SECURE Strike Force successfully executed a search warrant and arrested and charged three men with the felonies listed below. (The focus of the SECURE Strike Force is to investigate major crimes committed by or against people who are present in the United States without legal documentation).
 
The case centers on 32-year-old Eduardo Romo-Vazquez, who faces the bulk of the drug, weapons, stolen goods and fraud charges. Vazquez possesses a “U Visa”, which is a temporary visa and does not allow him to possess firearms. Two of the firearms in his possession were stolen rifles. He will face deportation when/if he is convicted.
 
Also charged are his brothers, Emmanuel and Juan Pablo, who are facing fraud charges and will be deported as soon as possible.
 
SECURE investigators acted on a tip from a concerned citizen about potential legal activity at a home in Magna. During the course of the two-month investigation, undercover officers confirmed the activities, built the case and arrested the suspects without incident.
 
Charged are:
Eduardo Romo Vazquez, (DOB 2/13/87): 16 Felonies including drugs and weapons charges: 2 counts of possession of a controlled substance with intent to distribute (2nd degree felony); 9 counts of Possession of a forged writing-phony social security cards, (3rd degree felony); 3 counts of possession of a firearm by a restricted person, (2nd degree felony); 2 counts of receiving stolen property. (2nd degree felony).
 
Two other subjects were also arrested:
Emmanuel Romo-Vazquez, DOB not available: 5 counts of possession of fraudulent documents, (possession of a false writing), 3rd degree felony.
 
Juan Pablo Romo-Vazquez, DOB not available: 2 counts of possession of fraudulent documents, (possession of a false writing), 3rd degree felony.
 

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NOTES:

  1. Read the charging document and probable cause statement for Emmanuel Romo-Vasquez here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Utah-v.-Emmanuel-Romo-Vasquez.pdf.
  2. Read the charging document and probable cause statement for Eduardo Romo-Vasquez here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Utah-v.-Eduardo-Romo-Vasquez.pdf.
  3. Read the charging document and probable cause statement for Juan Pablo Romo-Vasquez here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/State-of-Utah-v.-Juan-Pablo-Romo-Vasquez.pdf.
  4. View photos of the drugs, weapons, cash, and phony social security cards: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2019/09/Phony-Social-Security-Cards-Seized.zip.

Riverton City in Partnership with Utah AG Launches New Medication Disposal Program

September 12, 2019

Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes joined with Riverton City, Intermountain Riverton Hospital, and the Utah Opioid Task Force this morning to announce a local solution to the state and national opioid epidemic.

The opioid crisis is a widespread, community issue. It affects every family, community, and city. Unfortunately, deaths from opioid overdose in Utah now surpass deaths caused by firearms and vehicles. One of the best ways to start addressing this epidemic is in the home. Medicine cabinets are often filled with unused and expired medications that can easily be taken and abused.

To address this issue, Riverton Mayor Trent Staggs introduced a new cost efficient, eco-friendly medication disposal program using NarcX. This safe, easy-to-use liquid solution dissolves pills, tablets, capsules, liquids and patches immediately on contact, making them non-retrievable. A proprietary blend of ingredients allows even coated time-release capsules to quickly disintegrate and become neutralized, and indigestible properties prevent any attempt at abuse. Large, blue boxes containing NarcX will be placed at locations throughout Riverton in order to encourage the disposal of unused, unwanted, and expired medications. Bottles of the solution can also be purchased from select pharmacies in Riverton and can be placed in the home as an on-site option for safe and convenient destruction of medicines.

In addition to this new program, the Utah Attorney General’s Office partners with the DEA for Take Back Day each year. Unused and unwanted medications are collected across the State of Utah in an effort to prevent drug addiction and overdose deaths. In the last three years this initiative has been done in Utah, 90,000 pounds of medications were collected.

“We are all vulnerable to the opioid crisis,” said Attorney General Reyes. “Today is the day to make a difference. Let’s take back as many of these unused, unwanted medications as possible.”


Media coverage: 

KUTV: New Initiative Aims to End Opioid Crisis in Utah

Fox 13: Drug Disposal Bins in Riverton Will dissolve Pills On-site

KSL TV: Riverton Introduces ‘Solution’ to Pill Disposal: NarcX

KSL: Riverton Offers Kiosks for Residents to Safely Dispose Opioid, Drugs

ABC 4: Opioid Crisis Solution? Riverton Partners with NarcX to Dissolve Away Unwanted Medications

Deseret News: Riverton Offers Kiosks for Residents to Safely Dispose Opioids, Drugs

KSL News Radio: New Drop Boxes in Riverton Aim to Fight the Opioid Crisis

KJZZ: New Initiative Aims to End Opioid Crisis in Utah

Univision 32: Nuevo Plan Para Combatir Opioides 


Utah Attorney General Reyes Joins 50 Attorneys General in Multistate Google Investigation

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 9, 2019

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES JOINS 50 ATTORNEYS GENERAL IN GOOGLE MULTISTATE BIPARTISAN ANTITRUST INVESTIGATION 
 

SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes today announced that Utah is joining the attorneys general in 48 states, Washington D.C. and Puerto Rico in a multistate, bipartisan investigation of tech giant Google’s business practices in accordance with state and federal antitrust laws.

The bipartisan coalition announced plans to investigate Google’s overarching control of online advertising markets and search traffic that may have led to anticompetitive behavior that harms consumers. Legal experts from each state will work in cooperation with Federal authorities to assess competitive conditions for online services and ensure that Americans have access to free digital markets.

“Now, more than ever, information is power, and the most important source of information in Americans’ day-to-day lives is the internet. When it comes to internet search, Google is-and has been-the 90% market share leader.” said Attorney General Reyes. “There is nothing wrong with a business becoming the dominant player if it does so fairly, but we are concerned Google’s dominance has been achieved and maintained through business practices designed to thwart competition and prevent new alternatives from ever existing. If true, such practices have undermined consumer choice, stifled innovation, violated users’ privacy, and impermissibly put Google in control of the flow and dissemination of online information.

“At times, there is a fine line between aggressive and abusive business practices. This investigation will tell us if Google has crossed that line. We intend to closely follow the facts we discover in this case and proceed as necessary. I raised these issues with the FTC several years ago but didn’t have the resources as a single state to pursue this behemoth. I am glad so many of my colleagues have seen the wisdom and importance of pursuing this investigation.”

Past investigations of Google uncovered violations ranging from advertising illegal drugs in the United States to now three antitrust actions brought by the European Commission. None of these previous investigations, however, fully address the source of Google’s sustained market power and the ability to engage in serial and repeated business practices with the intention to protect and maintain that power.
 

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Statement on Settlement Between State of Utah and John Swallow

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
September 6, 2019

STATEMENT ON SETTLEMENT BETWEEN STATE OF UTAH AND JOHN SWALLOW
 

SALT LAKE CITY – Today the Utah Attorney General’s Office issued the following statement:

“After a jury acquitted Mr. Swallow, he brought a claim for his attorney fees, which the State is obligated to pay under Utah law. While the amount he claims in attorneys fees is much higher, the parties have agreed to settle for payment of $1.5 million by the State in exchange for dismissal with prejudice of all claims. 

“Though many may be reluctant to pay anything in this matter, the law is clear and neither the executive branch nor the legislature have the ability to deviate from it. The legislature is upholding the rule of law by approving this settlement, which closes the book on a controversial chapter in Utah history.”

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AG Reyes Statement on Aaron Shamo Conviction

August 29, 2019

Following the announcement of the conviction of Aaron Shamo, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes released the following statement:

“We may never know the full extent of the lives lost or the families harmed by Aaron Shamo’s deadly enterprise as a global drug dealer.

“Shamo callously profited from trafficking dangerous doses of Fentanyl to vulnerable people caught in the clutches of addiction.

“This case highlights the devastating effects of trafficking illicit Fentanyl, an often overlooked but deadly aspect of the opioid crisis. 

“Shamo’s conviction today is a significant victory in the ongoing war on illegal opioids in our state and nation. Utahans owe a debt of gratitude to all involved in taking down this predator.

“We thank DEA Supervisory Agent Brian Besser and his fellow agents who put their lives in danger to investigate this case and eliminate a clear and present danger.

“We also commend US Attorney John Huber, Special AUSA Michael Gadd and the joint prosecution team of the US Attorney, Kent Burggraaf from the Utah Attorney General’s Office, the FDA, Homeland Security, IRS-Criminal Investigation and Postal Inspectors.

“To further protect our families from the Aaron Shamos of the world, we need to have real and honest dialogues about addiction as a public health crisis.

“In those discussions, we must eliminate shame and judgment. This will allow more prevention in some cases and in others, more treatment and recovery resources to those trapped in the deadly cycle of addiction.”


Utah AG’s Office Obtains Convictions Against Human Trafficker

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

August 30, 2019
 

UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE OBTAINS CONVICTIONS AGAINST HUMAN TRAFFICKER JAMES SAVAGE BROWN
Women shared stories of assault, abuse, and forced sexual exploitation


SALT LAKE CITY – On Thursday, August 29, 2019 a Third District Court Jury convicted James Savage Brown on multiple felony charges-including aggravated human trafficking-against two women. The Utah Attorney General’s office SECURE Section investigated and prosecuted the case and worked for more than a year to obtain the conviction. 

Brown was convicted of the following charges:

  • Aggravated Human Trafficking for Forced Sexual Exploitation
  • Aggravated Kidnapping
  • Rape
  • Forcible Sodomy
  • Aggravated Exploitation of Prostitution
  • Tampering with a Witness

A pre-sentence report has been requested and sentencing has been scheduled for October 21st at 1:30 pm. AG Special Agents learned of Brown’s activity last year from one of the victims. S.S., after she was released from the Salt Lake County Detention Center. While there, S.S. encountered another woman, J.M., who had suffered similarly at the hands of Brown. Investigators later learned that J.S. had previously reported her encounter with Brown to the Salt Lake City Police Department. Both women told stories of manipulation and coercion, including exploiting drug dependency, threatened or actual physical abuse, fear for their lives, and repeated attempts and/or success in forced prostitution by Brown.

Collaboration between the Attorney General’s Office and the Salt Lake City Police Department was instrumental in identifying the victims and corroboration the victims’ reports. Once identified, the two victims received counseling and other services through a partner agency of the Attorney General’s Utah Trafficking in Person’s Task Force, The Refugee and Immigrant Center—Asian Association of Utah.

“I am very proud of my team of investigators, prosecutors and victim advocates including Russell Smith, Tye Christensen, Michelle Rasmussen, and Ruthie Pedregon for their hard work and professionalism in obtaining justice for the women are survivors of James Savage Brown’s crimes,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “We are also relieved that the victims are safe and receiving the best resources we have at our disposal. Human trafficking is a despicable crime that we in the Utah AGO are deeply committed to combat with aggressive investigations and prosecutions.”

The Attorney General’s SECURE Strike force executed the investigation and arrest. SECURE is tasked by the Utah Legislature with investigating and prosecuting large-scale criminal operations, including human trafficking.

Human trafficking tips should be reported to the National Human Trafficking Hotline at 888-373-7888.


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 NOTES:

  1. You can find a copy of the charging documents and probable cause statement here:  https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/11/James-Brown-Savage.pdf.
  2. Read more about the AG’s SECURE Strike Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/secure-task-force/.
  3. You can find more information on the Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/initiatives/human-trafficking/.

L.E.T.S. Stay Safe – Firearm Safety and Violence Prevention Program

August 29, 2019

Today, the Utah Attorney General’s Office, Utah State Legislature, and Utah State Board of Education announced the launch of L.E.T.S. Stay Safe – a firearm safety and violence prevention program. L.E.T.S. stands for Leave it alone, Educate others, Tell an adult, and Share the threat.

During the 2016 Legislative Session, Senator Todd Weiler and Senator Dan McCay sponsored SB 43, a bill that directed the Utah Attorney General’s Office to produce a program that offers guidance and education to youth on the importance of firearm safety and reporting threats to schools. Together with the Utah Legislature, Utah State Board of Education, and partner law enforcement agencies, the Utah Attorney General’s Office produced L.E.T.S. Stay Safe.

This comprehensive educational program includes a video, PowerPoint presentation, posters, handouts, and lesson plans for educators, community leaders, and parents. The program will be offered to schools, youth groups, community organizations, educators, and parents, and is directed towards young people in grades 5-12. Firearms are common in Utah, and this program emphasizes what to do should young people come across a firearm in order to help save lives and reduce accidental deaths and injuries.

Watch the live stream of the press conference here.

Watch the L.E.T.S. Stay Safe Video here.

For more information on the program, go here.


Media coverage:

Fox 13: Utah AG’s Office Promotes Gun Safety with New Video For Utah Students

KSL: Utah Launches Gun Safety Campaign for Students Grades 5-12

ABC 4: Utah Launches Optional Gun Safety Program for Schools

Salt Lake Tribune: Utah Launches Firearms Safety Video for Schools, Confronting the ‘Reality That Guns Are Part of Our Society’

Daily Herald: Utah Launches Optional Gun Safety Program for Schools

St. George News: Utah Launches Optional Gun Safety Program for Schools

KUTV: Utah Launches Optional Gun Safety Program for Schools

Jackson Hole News: Utah Launches Optional Gun Safety Program for Schools


AG Reyes Statement on Presidential Memorandum For Disabled Veteran Student Loan Forgiveness

August 22, 2019

Subsequent to President Donald J. Trump signing the presidential memorandum instituting student loan forgiveness for disabled veterans, Utah Attorney General Reyes released the following statement:

“I am thrilled by President Trump’s announcement instituting automatic student loan forgiveness for total and permanently disabled U.S. Veterans. I can’t think of a more deserving group than those who have served, risked their lives and sacrificed their health to protect our nation.

“In many cases, these veterans were injured so severely that it has  compromised their quality of life and ability to earn enough in order to pay off their debt quickly. Far too many of these wounded heroes were either unaware of the availability of loan forgiveness or didn’t know how to access it. President Trump has thankfully removed those hurdles.

“Earlier this year, I had the honor of co-authoring a letter in which I asked U.S. Department of Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to take action toward automatic loan forgiveness. The letter was joined by a bipartisan coalition of 51 attorneys general (50 states and Guam).

“I thank Secretary DeVos for listening to us, for her leadership along with the work by the Department of Veterans Affairs on this issue. President Trump deserves great credit for decisively solving a problem he had inherited and that has only worsened over time.”

In Utah, veterans who have questions or need legal help may contact and may be covered by the Utah@EASE program, offering pro bono legal services under the Utah AG office.


Fighting Robocalls: Utah AG Reyes Joins 51 Attorneys General, 12 Telecommunication Companies

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
August 22, 2019



FIGHTING ILLEGAL ROBOCALLS: UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES JOINS 51 ATTORNEYS GENERAL 12 TELECOMMUNICATION COMPANIES

SALT LAKE CITY—Today, Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes has announced an agreement to protect phone users by fighting illegal robocalls and to make it easier for attorneys general to investigate and prosecute ‘bad actors’. This agreement is the result of a bipartisan, public/private coalition of 51 attorneys general and 12 phone companies. 

The phone companies have agreed to adopt eight principles to fight illegal robocalls in order to help protect phone customers and to punish bad actors. The principles, available here, address the robocall problem in two main ways: prevention and enforcement.

Phone companies will work to prevent illegal robocalls by:

  • Implementing call-blocking technology at the network level at no cost to customers.
  • Making available to customers additional, free, easy-to-use call blocking and labeling tools.
  • Implementing technology to authenticate that callers are coming from a valid source.
  • Monitoring their networks for robocall traffic.

Phone companies will assist attorneys’ general anti-robocall enforcement by:

  • Knowing who their customers are so bad actors can be identified and investigated.
  • Investigating and taking action against suspicious callers – including notifying law enforcement and state attorneys general.
  • Working with law enforcement, including state attorneys general, to trace the origins of illegal robocalls.
  • Requiring telephone companies with which they contract to cooperate in traceback identification.

Going forward, phone companies will stay in close communication with the coalition of attorneys general to continue to optimize robocall protections as technology and scammer techniques change.
 
“The principles offer a comprehensive set of best practices that recognizes that no single action or technology is sufficient to curb the scourge of illegal and unwanted robocalls,” said Levi Professor of Computer Science and Electrical Engineering at Columbia University Henning Schulzrinne. “I hope that all parts of the telecommunication industry, both large and small, will commit to rapidly implementing these principles and work with state and federal authorities to make people want to answer their phone again without fear of being defrauded or annoyed.”
 
The coalition of attorneys general, led by North Carolina Attorney General Josh Stein, New Hampshire Attorney General Gordon MacDonald, and Indiana Attorney General Curtis Hill, includes attorneys general from all 50 states and Washington, D.C.
 
The coalition of companies includes AT&T, Bandwidth, CenturyLink, Charter, Comcast, Consolidated, Frontier, Sprint, T-Mobile, US Cellular, Verizon, and Windstream.
 

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