|SALT LAKE CITY October 2, 2017 – Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following statement regarding the shooting last night in Las Vegas.
“Our deepest sympathies extend to the families of those who lost their lives and our prayers lift toward heaven on behalf of those recovering or whose lives hang in the balance. In addition to the many civilian lives tragically taken, we mourn the deaths of military veterans and law enforcement personnel killed during and in response to the shooting. The thin blue line of law enforcement is painfully even thinner today.
“As has been the case with other mass shootings that have occurred worldwide in the recent past, perhaps out of the horror and shock of such senseless violence, we can unite in love and unity as a nation and as a global community to demonstrate support for those suffering and to condemn all such acts of unmitigated evil.
“Shortly after the news of the shooting broke on Sunday, I reached out to Nevada Attorney General Adam Laxalt to offer my concern and condolences and any help they may need. He expressed his appreciation to the State for its concern.”
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AG Reyes Encourages Utahns to Fight Identity Theft, Online Exploitation During National Crime Prevention Month
SALT LAKE CITY October 2, 2017 – During National Crime Prevention Month, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes urged Utahns to educate themselves about affinity fraud, identity theft, and other forms of white-collar crime, especially those who are vulnerable to predators. With the recent data breach at Equifax, it is especially critical that Utahns take steps to protect themselves.
“While the Utah Attorney General’s Office fights crime every day—from human trafficking, drug smuggling, Ponzi schemes and public corruption to cyberattacks, identify theft and child predation on the Internet—we would like to highlight the danger of these latter threats as we focus on crime prevention this month,” said Attorney General Reyes. “We also want to raise awareness of resources to empower Utahns to protect themselves and ones they love.
“The Utah AGO has prioritized the protection of businesses and consumers. With the massive data breach at Equifax, it is critical to the protection of consumers that they take steps to guard their credit and identity. Please take measures to monitor your credit, shield your identity from cybercriminals, shred old documents, and conduct research before you invest.
“Additionally, parents should take further precautions to assure their children under the age of 18 are protected, both against identity theft and from dangerous online predators who will not hesitate to exploit children. Kids are often targeted so criminals can use their information to create fake IDs, open credit card accounts, take out loans years before anyone ever thinks to run a credit check on the children. The best tool for stopping this shadowy crime is prevention, including the Utah Child Identity Protection tool.
“Last, parents and caregivers should be vigilant about children’s online activities. The Utah Attorney General’s site offers many Internet safety resources to assist parents and caregivers as they fight online predators. These perpetrators may use the Internet to share inappropriate images or content with our kids, they may ‘sextort’ children by threatening them with release of embarrassing photos or information or they may entice young people to meet them for activities that put our youth at great risk of abuse or other harm. Proactive parents can greatly reduce the risk of harm to their children.”
The Office of the Attorney General recommends a few of the many online resources to consumers.
- Federal Trade Commission, Identity Theft page: https://identitytheft.gov/
- What if information is lost or stolen? https://identitytheft.gov/Info-Lost-or-Stolen
- Utah Child Identity Protection: https://cip.utah.gov/cip/SessionInit.action
WCCOR: Created in 2016, the White Collar Crime Offender Registry allows investors to check out those who bring investment opportunities.
- Internet safety resources for parents: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/victim-advocacy/resources-for-parents
- Supporting local community and neighborhood watch groups is another effective method in creating safer neighborhoods. You can find out more about your local community watch through Unified Police or local police department.
SALT LAKE CITY September 22, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes today released a letter he signed with 43 other attorneys general expressing concerns and requesting compliance from Equifax that will provide greater transparency and protect consumers.
The letter notes that, at the request of the attorneys general, Equifax made its offer of free credit monitoring services more prominent so that it can more easily be found by consumers. The letter then demands that Equifax take the following actions:
- Disable links to the Equifax fee-based credit monitoring services until the sign-up period for free credit monitoring services has ended.
- Extend the sign-up period for free credit monitoring services to at least January 31, 2018.
- Take steps to reimburse consumers who incur fees to completely freeze their credit by enrolling in security freeze services from Equifax, Experian and TransUnion.
- Make the Equifax call center number more prominently visible on Equifax websites and ensure the hotline is adequately staffed 24 hours a day to create shorter wait times.
- Notify the attorneys general about communications made to impacted consumers regarding their affected information and privacy.
AG Reyes issued the following statement, in conjunction with the release of the letter:
“This may be the largest and most damaging breach in our nation’s history; one that has affected 143 million U.S residents. Utah residents need all the information and tools available to help them mitigate the damage. To do this, Equifax must be transparent and accountable.
At this point in the crisis, they need to offer clear and concise steps so consumers can protect their information. We believe Equifax should not be profiting from their breach by continuing to offer a fee-based credit monitoring product, neither should they be charging consumers to freeze their credit.
I stand with an overwhelming majority of our sister states in calling for greater responsiveness and transparency from Equifax. Consumers need a clear path to protect data that may have been compromised by the breach.
Cyber security, identity protection and data protection have been and will remain top priorities for the Utah Attorney General’s Office.”
The multi-state investigation began immediately upon Equifax formally announcing the data breach. From the outset, the Utah Attorney General’s Office has been working alongside other states to discern the best course of action to protect residents. That includes assisting current victims and preventing future incidents of information loss.
1. The full text of the letter from the attorneys general can be downloaded as a PDF file. (885KB)
2. The Federal Trade Commission website is an excellent resource on Equifax breach issues. https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/blog/2017/09/equifax-data-breach-what-do
3. Utahns can find multiple ways to prevent identity theft at https://idtheft.utah.gov
Sends well wishes to the Utah Jewish Community Celebrating the Beginning of Yamim Nora’im
SALT LAKE CITY September 20, 2017 – The Office of the Utah Attorney General wishes all our friends celebrating Rosh Hashanah a safe, happy, and healthy new year. Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following message:
“Having grown up in a community with many friends of the Jewish faith, I have always enjoyed the spirit of renewal embodied by Rosh Hashanah. Shanah tovah u’metukah!
“May we all reflect on our experiences and imperfections in the effort to become more honorable human beings and more invested in our communities.”
Rosh Hashanah celebrates the Jewish New Year and is the beginning of Yamim Nora’im, Days of Awe. It is a time of personal reflection and self-examination of the soul, looking back at past experiences with renewed energy to make positive changes for the coming year.
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State Seeks Documents from Opioid Manufacturers and Distributors
SALT LAKE CITY September 19, 2017 – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that a bipartisan coalition of state attorneys general are seeking documents and information from manufacturers and distributors of prescription opioids. This information will enable the attorneys general to evaluate whether these businesses are engaged in unlawful practices in the marketing, sale, and distribution of opioids. 41 attorneys general from U.S. states and territories are participating in the investigation. This action is the latest in Utah’s multifaceted effort to end the current opioid addiction crisis.
The attorneys general served investigative subpoenas for documents and information, also known as Civil Investigative Demands, on Endo, Janssen, Teva/Cephalon, Allergan, and their related entities, as well as a supplemental Civil Investigative Demand on Purdue Pharma. Likewise, the attorneys general sent information demand letters to opioid distributors AmerisourceBergen, Cardinal Health, and McKesson requesting documents about their opioid distribution business.
The attorneys general seek to determine what role the opioid manufacturers and distributors may have played in creating or prolonging this epidemic and determine the appropriate course of action to help resolve this crisis.
As with any case, the entities involved in the investigation are not guilty unless proven otherwise and deserve a presumption of innocence. Some of the companies have indicated their intent to cooperate. A few have proactively implemented programs to combat opioid addiction and illicit sale and abuse of opioids.
Nationwide and in Utah, opioids—prescription and illicit—are the main driver of drug overdose deaths. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, including 646 in Utah. Nationwide, opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999.
Attorney General Reyes stated, “Far too many of our friends, family, and neighbors have fallen victims to the devastating plague of opioid addiction. These drugs have taken many lives and ruined countless more. We will win this fight but need everyone’s help to do it. We will do everything possible to protect the ones we love.”
Mark Steinagel, Director of the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) at the Department of Commerce stated, “The United States drug system was designed to test, manufacture, distribute, prescribe, and dispense drugs along multiple check points established to protect the public. As a state agency tasked with licensing professionals who prescribe and dispense opioid prescriptions, we are very concerned if any of those checkpoints have failed. DOPL appreciates the partnership with Utah Attorney General’s Office in investigating this serious matter.”
In addition to this investigation, the State of Utah is actively addressing the opioid epidemic on multiple fronts, including the following:
- A 9/18/17 letter to insurers, co-authored by Attorney General Reyes, that requests health insurance companies examine policies and financial incentives that may contribute to the opioid epidemic. The letter and AG Reyes’ statement on that action is available here.
- Utah Department of Health efforts, which include Controlled Substance Database analysis, prescriber education and guidelines, and public awareness on the risks of overdose and addictions.
- The statewide Utah Coalition for Opioid Overdose Prevention.
- The DEA-AG Joint Opioid Task Force, co-chaired by DEA Agent Brian Besser and AG Sean Reyes, which focuses on intelligence gathering, dedicated criminal prosecution, and criminal enforcement.
- Support for the Road to Recovery Act, proposed federal legislation that would eliminate a restriction on using Medicaid funding for in-patient drug treatment.
- Partnerships with multiple community organizations on addiction, recovery, and prevention.
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1. Find drug overdose death data on the CDC site: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html
2. Find more information on the AG’s 9/18/17 letter to insurers at https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/featured-content/attorney-general-reyes-helps-lead-37-states-territories-in-fight-against-opioid-incentives
3. More information on the Utah Coalition for Opioid Overdose Prevention is available at http://ucoop.utah.gov
Letter asks insurance companies to join opioid effort by scrutinizing policies and incentives
SALT LAKE CITY, Utah September 18, 2017 – Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes co-authored a letter representing a coalition of 37 states and territories urging health insurance companies to examine financial incentives that contribute to the opioid epidemic in Utah.
The bipartisan coalition announced Monday a two-step strategy intended to identify problematic policies and encourage reforms to spur increased use of non-opioid alternatives for treatment of chronic, non-cancer pain.
Describing the opioid epidemic as “the preeminent public health crisis of our time,” the 37 attorneys general will send a letter to industry trade groups and major insurance providers nationwide. It urges insurers to review their coverage and payment policies as the starting point in a coalition-initiated dialogue focused on incentive structures across the insurance industry.
“We have witnessed firsthand the devastation that the opioid epidemic has wrought on our States in terms of lives lost and the costs it has imposed on our healthcare system and the broader economy,” Attorney General Sean D. Reyes wrote along with several co-authors. “As the chief legal officers of our States, we are committed to using all tools at our disposal to combat this epidemic and to protect patients suffering from chronic pain or addiction.”
In addition to the letter, Attorney General Reyes issued the following personal statement:
“Utah citizens, like those across the country, deserve to have their pain management needs addressed in a responsible way that does not promote an even greater risk to their health and well-being. Solving the current opioid crisis is incredibly challenging because there are so many layers of contributing factors involved. This letter is significant but only a part of one area of concern. To be clear, this letter is not an accusation of wrongdoing aimed at the recipients but rather an attempt to ask partners in the private sector to be part of the multi-faceted solution to the crisis.
“From opioid manufacturers, distributors, prescribers, pharmacists, and insurance companies to addicts and their families, emergency responders, recovery professionals, and law enforcement agencies, among others, we must have difficult conversations to fix a problem that is not going away on its own.
“This letter is part of our ongoing efforts as bi-partisan state attorneys general to encourage discussion and re-evaluation of current business and other practices that may be lawful but unhelpful to remedying the Opioid Epidemic.”
The attorneys general, in acknowledging the important role insurance companies play in reducing opioid prescriptions, hope to assess the positive and negative impacts incentive structures have on the opioid epidemic. They contend incentives that promote use of non-opioid techniques will increase the practicality of medical providers considering such treatments, including physical therapy, acupuncture, massage, chiropractic care, and non-opioid medications.
Increased reliance on these alternatives will combat a significant factor contributing to the epidemic – the over-prescription of opioid painkillers. The letter notes the number of opioid prescriptions have quadrupled since 1999, despite Americans reporting a steady amount of pain.
Attorneys general from West Virginia, Arkansas, Florida, Kansas, Kentucky, Mississippi, New Mexico, Virginia, and Utah are co-sponsors of this effort. Other attorneys general signing the letter are those from Arizona, California, Connecticut, District of Columbia, Georgia, Hawaii, Illinois, Indiana, Maine, Massachusetts, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Puerto Rico, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Vermont, and Wisconsin.
A PDF copy of the letter is available here.
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SALT LAKE CITY September 15, 2017- After over 20 years as a public servant with the Office of the Utah Attorney General, Ann Rozycki-Fierro retired on September 15, 2017 and will be moving to Florida. Ann is a skilled prosecutor and supportive colleague and she will be missed.
Ann began her career in the Office in 1997 as a lawyer representing the Utah Office of Recovery Services in state and federal court, and in administrative hearings. In 2001, Ann joined the Criminal Nonsupport Unit, where she served until 2010. From 2010 to 2016, as a member of the Internet Crimes Against Children Unit, Ann investigated and prosecuted criminal cases against individuals who used the internet to exploit children, namely matters involving child pornography and child sexual enticement.
In 2016, Ann joined the Mortgage and Financial Fraud Unit of the White Collar and Commercial Enforcement Division, where she prosecuted complex white-collar crimes, specializing in state tax prosecutions.
Attorney General Sean Reyes thanked Ann for her many years of service to the State of Utah, and said, “Ann is a tough prosecutor. She successfully took on some very complex, difficult, and emotionally taxing cases for our office – from criminal nonsupport work, to fighting to take down pedophiles with the ICAC Task Force, to litigating complex tax cases. We thank her for the many good things she has done, and wish her all the best in retirement.”
With respect and gratitude, the Office of the Utah Attorney General wishes Ann all the best as she retires and relocates to Florida. Thank you for your service and god speed.
SALT LAKE CITY September 11, 2017 – The Utah Attorney General’s Office has been actively monitoring and reviewing the Equifax data breach in cooperation with a number of other states. Along with other state attorneys general, we have concerns over Equifax’s approach. While new information continues to come to light, we advise consumers to be vigilant for incidents of fraud and identity theft by reviewing account statements and monitoring your credit reports.
You may obtain a free copy of your credit report from each company listed below once every 12 months by requesting your report online at www.annualcreditreport.com, calling toll-free 1-877-322-8228, or mailing an Annual Credit Report Request Form (available at www.annualcreditreport.com) to: Annual Credit Report Request Service, P.O. Box 105281, Atlanta, GA, 30348-5281.
You may also purchase a copy of your credit report by contacting any of the credit reporting agencies below:
PO Box 9554
Allen, TX 75013
PO Box 2000
Chester, PA 19016
In addition, please exercise vigilance, care, and wisdom when sharing personal data. Utah citizens can find additional resources and information at IDTheft.utah.gov.
If you believe you are the victim of identity theft, you should contact the proper law enforcement authorities, including the Federal Trade Commission (FTC). You also may contact the FTC to obtain additional information about avoiding identity theft.
SALT LAKE CITY September 10, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following extended statement marking World Suicide Prevention Day on September 10th, 2017.
“I appreciate the efforts of the International Association of Suicide Prevention (IASP) and all of its partners to educate the world on what is a global health threat. I join many other voices worldwide in support of raising awareness and resources to prevent a growing number of suicides. In the U.S., suicide is the tenth leading cause of death and a recent CDC study showed an increased suicide rate every year from 1999 to 2014 among both women and men and in every age group except those 75 and older. The rates of suicide for teens and Military Veterans are particularly alarming. Sadly, Utah is no exception.
“For the last three and a half years, the Office of the Utah Attorney General has led an effort to respond to increased teen suicide, the leading cause of death of Utah children, ages 10-17. We have teamed with legislators, state agencies, mental health clinicians, suicide prevention advocates, the faith community, educators, law enforcement, parents, and teens themselves to address the tragic reality that far too many of our youth feel there is no hope and life is not worth living.
“As we have traveled the state over the last several years, visiting with teens in groups or individually, so many of them have expressed feelings of being alone, judged, or without hope. While adolescence is or was a difficult transition time for nearly all of us, the isolation of today’s youth seems more prevalent and more deeply felt. Other factors like depression, being victims of bullying and abuse, eating disorders, drug use and addictions of various kinds, as well as other behavioral health and safety challenges can increase the risk of suicide among teens.
“Because Utah has one of the highest rates of teen suicide in the nation, my office has been leading the School Safety and Crisis Line Commission which last year unveiled the new SafeUT app. It is currently introduced in schools throughout Utah. Those teens in crisis can now access live trained professionals at any time the way they are used to communicating: through a free app on their smart phones available across Android, Apple or other platforms. With the SafeUT app our kids are never alone.
“We have also worked closely with legislators to create a three digit number similar to 911 in Utah for immediate response to mental health and behavioral crises, including thoughts of or attempts at suicide. This statewide effort has led to discussions and proposed legislation at a national level for a similar 911-type number.
“Like teens, the number of Military Veterans losing their lives from suicide across our nation is staggering. Daily, those losses number twenty or more. Utah has lost its fair share of Veterans who were willing to give their lives for their country and instead lost them battling personal demons and enemies seen and unseen that were often related to their service.
“We can all play a part in reversing Utah’s devastating trend of teen and Veteran suicide by having real conversations with friends, family, and neighbors. These may be difficult and uncomfortable discussions but the alternative–not communicating–rarely if ever leads to positive outcomes. I challenge all Utahns to engage daily in a positive way with teens and Veterans. Say hello. Recognize them. Smile. Be a mentor or friend. Find ways to connect and to serve them. While this is not a panacea or cure-all, it can go a long way to lifting someone out of darkness and despair. Truly, one of act of kindness can be the difference between life and death.”
Key Features of SafeUT
The SafeUT program and app help youth stay healthy and safe in schools by providing high-quality, confidential counseling services. The app’s key features include:
- Anonymous, confidential, and password protected services
- Real-time, two-way communication with SafeUT crisis counselors available 24/7
- Tips can be submitted with picture and/or video
- Mobile app works with Apple & Android devices
SafeUT’s Crisis Services
Safe UT answers crisis calls, texts, and chats – about yourself or someone else – 24/7. These services are anonymous and confidential. Our counseling topics include:
- Emotional crisis
- Grief and loss
- Drug and alcohol problems
- Mental health
- Impact of domestic violence
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Violations led to the removal of all Utah State inmates from the Daggett County Jail
SUMMIT COUNTY, Utah September 6, 2017 – The Office of the Attorney General (OAG) announced today that former Daggett County Sheriff Jerry Jorgensen and former Daggett County Sheriff Deputies Benjamin Lail and Joshua Cox entered guilty pleas to charges related to an investigation by the Utah Department of Corrections Law Enforcement Bureau (UDC). Earlier this year, the UDC received allegations of criminal activity at the Daggett County Jail, which houses inmates for the Utah State Prison. Following an investigation, UDC asked the OAG to review the case for possible prosecution. The numerous policy and criminal violations uncovered by UDC led to the removal of all Utah State inmates from the Daggett County Jail and all of the deputies involved were put on administrative leave pending the outcome of the investigation.
The UDC investigation found that Cox had brought a stolen Taser into a secure area of the prison and used it on five inmates after promising them a soda if they could endure the Taser for at least five seconds. On another occasion, Cox used the Taser on inmates who wanted to earn outside work privileges. Lail used the Taser to intimidate and threaten an employee at the jail during a training, pointing the Taser at the employee’s feet.
Jorgensen failed to investigate these allegations or discipline or otherwise supervise the deputies under his control. After charges against Cox, Jorgensen, Lail, and two other former deputies were filed in Daggett County, a motion for a change of venue was granted to move all five cases to Summit County.
Prosecution of the five deputies was spearheaded by the Special Prosecutions Section of the OAG, led by Assistant Attorney General Steven Wuthrich. Two remaining co-defendants have cases in Summit County Justice Court.
“We don’t enjoy prosecuting members of law enforcement, but when it is required we will do our job to hold accountable those who violate the law and erode public confidence,” said Dan Burton, a spokesman for the Attorney General’s Office. “The actions of those prosecuted here do not represent the vast majority of those in law enforcement or in the Department of Corrections, who have our full confidence.”
Cox pleaded guilty to two counts of third-degree felony aggravated assault, a third-degree felony for transporting a weapon into a secure facility, and a class A misdemeanor theft. The court ordered a pre-sentence report on Cox and scheduled his sentencing for November 6, 2017. As part of the plea agreement, Cox agreed to surrender his Peace Officer Standards and Training (POST) certification for life.
Jorgensen pleaded guilty to a class B misdemeanor official misconduct, held in abeyance for 6 months, and was ordered to pay a $500 fine or complete 50 hours community service. Lail pleaded guilty to class A misdemeanor reckless endangerment and was sentenced to 365 days jail. The jail time was suspended and Lail was ordered to complete 12 months of probation and pay a $2,500 fine. Jorgensen and Lail were ordered to surrender their POST certification.
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