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Behind the Badge Features AAG Shelley Coudreaut

Don Hudson of ABC4 featured the Shelley Coudreaut, Section Director in the Justice Division and part of the Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force on last Friday’s Behind the Badge.

 

The Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) is a multi-jurisdictional task force that investigates and prosecutes individuals who use the Internet to exploit children. The Utah Attorney General (UAG) ICAC Task Force was created in 2000 and is now one of 61 ICAC task forces in the country. They focus on crimes related to sexual exploitation of a minor – whether possessing, distributing, or manufacturing child pornography, enticing minors over the internet, or exchanging material deemed harmful to minors. The UAG ICAC Task Force has 32 local, state, and federal police agencies involved in the task force.

You can learn more about ICAC and how to keep your family safe, check out the ICAC Task Force here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/justice/internet-crimes-against-children-icac-task-force.

 

 


Utah Opioid Task Force

The Utah Opioid Task Force held its quarterly meeting on June 1, hearing reports on past actions as well as plans for future events and ideas in the ongoing fight against the opioid epidemic. Co-Chairs Attorney General Sean Reyes and DEA District Agent Brian Besser led the meeting, joined by Speaker Greg Hughes, USDA State Director for Rural Development Randy Parker, and representatives from Co-Chair Senator Mike Lee’s office.

AG Reyes opened with an update on the recently filed lawsuit against Purdue Pharma. Filed in Carbon County, the lawsuit also leaves room to add other plaintiffs later, if needed.

District Agent in Charge Brian Besser provided an update on Utah Take Back program, which encourages Utahns to turn in unused prescription drugs to avoid them falling into the wrong hands. Currently, federal regulations only allow Take Back boxes in law enforcement offices. However, there is an effort to allow collection boxes in pharmacies to provide more opportunities for people to get rid of their drugs instead of burning or trashing them. This effort is particularly important for rural areas, which have been hit hardest by the opioid epidemic.

Randy Parker, State Director for Rural Development USDA, informed the Task Force about the work of the Rural Opioid Task Force and the involvement of the USDA. Last year, the USDA invested nearly $500 million in the rural community and is actively involved in making our rural communities better. The “Farm Town Strong Road Show”  is a USDA mechanism to assist local farm bureaus in engaging rural people in open and honest discussions regarding opioid abuse. Currently, the Director Randy Parker and Beaver County Commissioner Mark Whitney, the Chairs of the Rural Outreach Subcommittee, are working with county commissioners to get these road shows set up throughout the state.

Upcoming meetings will also focus on legislation as legislators, lawyers, and medical professionals look at ways of implanting safeguards to help protect Utah citizens. Representative Steve Eliason (R-Sandy) will be sponsoring a number of bills regarding opioids. 

TAKE NOTE:
A major effort of the Task Force is the upcoming summit on opioids. The “Live Connected: Opioid Solutions Summit” is scheduled for October 12 at the Vivint Smart Home Arena. If you are interested in supporting the summit or being involved, please email Dan Burton at danburton@agutah.gov.

 

The Utah Opioid Task Force works in collaboration with groups nationally and across the state to address the effects of opioid addiction. The Utah Opioid Task Force includes leaders from government, law enforcement, and the medical and recovery community, as well as other concerned and interested individuals from across the State.

 


Utah Announces Lawsuit Against Purdue Pharma

UTAH ANNOUNCES MAJOR LAWSUIT AGAINST OPIOID MANUFACTURER PURDUE PHARMA
Lawsuit seeks injunctive relief and damages for negligence, fraud, and misleading marketing practices by OxyContin producer

SALT LAKE CITY – At a press conference today, Attorney General Sean Reyes announced that the State of Utah filed a lawsuit against Purdue Pharma for violating state law, including the Utah Consumer Sales Practices Act (CSPA), involving the company’s prescription opioids, including OxyContin. AG Reyes was joined in the announcement by Francine Giani, Executive Director of the Utah Department of Commerce, members of the Utah Legislature, Utah Opioid Task Force, and elected officials.

You can watch the entire press conference here: https://www.facebook.com/UtahAttorneyGeneral/videos/2194855960530734/

The complaint was filed in Carbon County, Utah, a rural community with a rich history and diversity that makes it representative of small towns throughout America. Rural communities have been disproportionately impacted by the scourge of opioid addiction and death by overdose, and Carbon County is among the most vulnerable and hardest hit in America.

The lawsuit seeks significant penalties from the company for its illegal conduct and injunctive relief to prevent future harm to Utah. The allegations against Purdue include:

  • Misrepresentation or failure to disclose the risk of addiction of opioids;
  • Misrepresenting that there was no “ceiling dose”– falsely claiming that doctors and patients could increase opioid dosages indefinitely without risk;
  • Making false, unsubstantiated representations about “pseudoaddiction,” and falsely representing to doctors that common signs of addiction in patients are actually signs that the patient needs a higher dose of opioid.

Utah Governor Gary Herbert said, “Today, Utah takes a big step forward in holding pharmaceutical companies accountable for the devastation caused in Utah through their deceptive marketing of opioids. The lawsuit explains how Purdue Pharma misled physicians to overprescribe and patients to over-use opioids by minimizing the risk of addiction. Their campaign of misinformation has contributed to thousands of deaths and untold heartache in Utah and across the county.”

“Purdue Pharma manufactured one of the deadliest combinations in the history of our nation—OxyContin and lies,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. He continued, “That lethal cocktail has led to a national public health crisis of epic proportions. In 2016, alone, more people died from opioid-related deaths than from breast cancer. These fatalities accounted for 66% of our 63,000 drug overdose deaths, more than all Americans lost in the Vietnam War. Purdue fueled Utah’s opioid epidemic by deceptively marketing prescription painkillers despite knowing their products were highly addictive and dangerous and were being abused, crushed, snorted and stolen from pharmacies and medicine cabinets. While Purdue’s executives got rich, Utah was plunged into a national public health crisis. 

“The opioid crisis has taken its toll on far too many families where six Utahns are dying every week from prescription opioid overdoses,” said Francine Giani, executive director of the Utah Department of Commerce.  “The Department of Commerce actively serves on the Executive Council on this issue and will continue to work shoulder to shoulder with the Utah Attorney General’s Office to seek legal restitution from this industry. The drug companies need to answer for their role in this growing health epidemic.”

By filing this lawsuit, Utah builds on the momentum of the aggressive multi-state investigation. Attorney General Reyes and a bipartisan group of over 40 other state attorneys general have been investigating to what extent companies that manufacture and distribute prescription opioids engaged in unlawful practices. Purdue Pharma alone faces more than a dozen lawsuits by states, including Utah. Other investigations remain ongoing. Depending on the outcome of the investigation and settlement negotiations, it is possible the State of Utah will file lawsuits against additional defendants.

In October of last year, President Trump officially declared the opioid epidemic a national emergency, noting that two million Americans suffer from addiction to prescription or illicit painkillers. In Utah, non-fatal opioid costs to the state are around $524 million annually, according to research from the American Enterprise Institute. From 2013 to 2015, Utah ranked 7th highest in the nation for drug overdose deaths.

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NOTES:

1. You can review a copy of the complaint filed today in Carbon County here: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2018/05/Filed-Purdue-Complaint.pdf.

2. We provided a FAQ sheet regarding the lawsuit and a timeline of actions the State and AG have taken in the fight against the opioid epidemic. You can find each of those here: 5.31.18 Opioid FAQs & 5.30.18 Opioid Timeline.

3. Reference material on Utah’s recent work to end the opioid crisis.

Opioid Litigation RFI: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/featured-content/utah-opioid-task-force-press-conference

Multistate investigation announcement, 9/19/2017: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/featured-content/utah-attorney-general-announces-multistate-opioid-investigation

Utah Department of Health Opidemic site: https://www.opidemic.org/what-are-opioids/

September 2017 letter encouraging insurance companies to examine financial practices related to opioid consumption: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/featured-content/attorney-general-reyes-helps-lead-37-states-territories-in-fight-against-opioid-incentives

A brief summary list of recent opioid-related actions: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/media-center/uag-pressrelease/fighting-against-the-opioid-epidemic

USDA website on opioid abuse in rural America: https://www.usda.gov/topics/opioids

AG updates White House on Utah opioid issues: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/featured-content/ag-reyes-updates-white-house-staff-on-opioid-epidemic


Remembering the Fallen and Lost

 
AG REYES PAYS TRIBUTE TO THOSE WHO MADE THE ULTIMATE SACRIFICE
 
SALT LAKE CITY – Today, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes issued the following statement to pay tribute to the fallen and lost this Memorial Day: 
 
The true meaning of Memorial Day can be forgotten in the excitement over school graduations, summer plans and BBQs on a long weekend. From time-to-time, though, certain experiences seem to re-enforce the deepest meaning of the day. I had one such experience not too long ago in France. 
 
Last year, my daughter and I had the honor of participating in services near Omaha Beach at the Normandy American Cemetery and Memorial in Coleville-sur-Mer, where 9,387 American soldiers who lost their lives in WW II are laid to rest. We also attended services at the Brittany American Cemetery and Memorial in St. James, where another 4,410 bodies of fallen soldiers are buried. 
 
In both sacred places, thousands more names of men and women lost or missing in battle are listed on the walls of the memorials. In these resting places, tidy rows of seemingly endless white tombstones tell the story of ultimate sacrifice paid by so many Americans of all backgrounds, religions, ranks, races and stations. In that spirit, we also had the privilege of dedicating a memorial on Omaha Beach to fallen sons and daughters of Native American nations. 
 
Each of these experiences was deeply moving. As we stood on ground hallowed by the blood of patriots, we felt a profound appreciation for their sacrifice. While there were crowds of visitors, voices were subdued and reverence palpable in the presence of such powerful reminders of the price of freedom. 
 
While we honor today those who gave their lives to protect our country and our allies, let’s not forget the sacrifices of their families who lost spouses, children and parents on behalf of America. One of those Gold Star families resides here in Utah—the proud relatives of PFC Jose F. Valdez, Utah’s only Latino recipient of the Medal of Honor and only one of six Utahns overall. Read of his amazing and heroic story here
 
Also, as we dedicate this Memorial Day to lost soldiers, sailors, airmen, corpsmen and officers, my hope is that we will appreciate the sacrifices and challenges of those that remain with us, including our men and women still in uniform who stand ready to defend our nation. The reality is that often vets face a different horror of war at home. Many of them are losing the fight to depression and other mental or behavioral challenges related to combat or other  aspects of their service. And far too many are ending their own lives feeling isolated, alone and misunderstood. 
 
If you are an attorney, one way to support our military families is by partnering with the Utah At Ease Program — a public-private partnership of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Utah State Bar, and the Attorney General’s Office. Through the Office of Military & Veteran Legal Assistance, we are able to connect our military and veterans communities with pro bono legal services throughout the State. 
 
We have had strong support from the Bar and are grateful for the many who are willing to serve those who serve us. At the AG’s Office, we are privileged to work closely with and support our dedicated women and men of the military. 
 
And finally, as we celebrate the sacrifices of fallen Americans, let’s not unnecessarily endanger or lose lives they fought to protect. Please don’t drive impaired by alcohol, drugs, texting or lack of sleep. And please don’t let loved ones do so either. 
 
The Office of the Utah Attorney General wishes everyone a safe and happy Memorial Day!
 
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SB45 Makes Protecting Credit Easier for Utah

NEW LAW MAKES PROTECTING CREDIT EASIER FOR UTAHNS
Credit Freezes Now Free And Available Through Apps

SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Attorney General’s office and Department of Commerce are alerting consumers to the benefits of a new law that went into effect May 8th. House Bill 45, sponsored by Rep. Jim Dunnigan and Sen. Todd Weiler, amended the Utah Consumer Credit Protection Act making it easier for Utahns to use credit report security freezes.

“This new law will allow consumers to freeze their credit without paying $10 per credit reporting company and another $10 to thaw,” said Rep. Dunningan. In addition to the removal of fees, the law allows for changes to be made using apps developed by the credit reporting companies as opposed to certified mail. “As the credit bureaus offer freezing and thawing via an app, they are required to honor the request within 15 minutes. This gives the consumer almost real time ability to protect their credit.”

Sen. Weiler spoke on the amendment stating:

As identity theft and fraud grows, we want consumers to know there are clear paths to protecting their credit when a security breach occurs.

A credit report security freeze may be useful for people whose personal information (such as Social Security and driver’s license numbers) has been compromised by a data breach. According to Deputy Attorney General David Sonnenreich,

HB 45 improved the Utah Consumer Credit Protection Act, making it easier for consumers to protect themselves from becoming victims of credit-based identity theft, such as fake credit card accounts being opened in their name.

Francine A. Giani, Executive Director for the Department of Commerce also weighed in:

Our consumer information is more vulnerable than ever to data breaches and hackers, therefore it is imperative that consumers’ have more control over who has access to their credit identity. The Department of Commerce is grateful for the hard work by the Attorney General’s office and legislative sponsors in passing these laws which put the power back in consumers’ hands when it comes to their credit information.

Deputy Sonnenreich cautioned that “freezes are not for everyone and they don’t prevent all forms of identity theft.” Credit freezes only stop companies that have not previously done business with a consumer from getting a credit report about the consumer. They do not actually stop companies from issuing new credit in a consumer’s name. Also, freezes do not stop thieves from using real credit information, such as using a consumer’s existing credit card number to order merchandise online.

When placing a credit report security freeze, a consumer must place a separate freeze with each credit reporting company. Every time a consumer wants to allow new businesses to check the consumer’s credit, they must make sure to remove temporarily or lift the freeze with each company. A consumer must remember lenders are not the only ones who use credit scores and reports. Many companies use credit reports to make offers or give discounts, including insurance companies, landlords, and utilities.  If a consumer fails to lift a credit freeze, those companies may charge higher rates or turn down applications. 

Consumers who are concerned about identity theft should discuss the pros and cons of credit report security freezes with their financial advisors. Consumers should also consider other options such as placing a “fraud alert.” Also, consumers should always check their credit accounts and free credit reports regularly for signs of suspicious or unauthorized activity. 

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NOTES:

  1. You can find a copy of the law regarding this change here:   https://le.utah.gov/~2018/bills/static/HB0045.html.
  2. Information about fraud alerts can be found here: https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0275-place-fraud-alert.
  3. For information about getting free copies of your credit reports, go to https://www.consumer.ftc.gov/articles/0155-free-credit-reports.

 


Honoring Asian Pacific American Heritage Month

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes Recounts Asian American Pacific Islander Contributions and Sacrifice on behalf of the United States of America

During Asian Pacific American Heritage Month, Utah Attorney General Reyes recounts his own family connection and the many contributions and sacrifices the AAPI community has bestowed on the United States of America in the following statement:

The Asian Pacific American (APA) Community has contributed in so many significant ways to the strength and exceptionalism of America. For example, the APA work ethic and entrepreneurial spirit have yielded tremendous business success. Whether in small shops, large boardrooms, restaurants or startup ventures, Asian Pacific Americans have generated great economic wealth and opportunity for all Americans.

In fields as diverse as academia, medicine, law, engineering and in so many other professional endeavors, APAs have overachieved. Their impact is abundantly evident in music and the arts, cuisine, culture, sports and so much else of what makes us uniquely American.

As an APA myself, and a second generation American, I honor my ancestors, my elders and the pioneers of the APA community for their sacrifice in coming to this country, serving and building-up these United States and creating more opportunities for me and the next generations to live the American dream.

However, too many stories of sacrifice and service by the APA community still remain unheard. Too few people know stories surrounding the Chinese Exclusion Act or forgotten Filipino War Veterans. Few understand the depths of humiliation and economic damage suffered by wrongfully incarcerated Japanese Americans during WWII.

Having done nothing wrong and loyal to our flag, many Japanese Americans were sent to internment camps and had their businesses and property confiscated by the federal government simply because of their ancestry; this while their sons fought in the US Military for the country they loved.

As we celebrate all that APAs have given and continue to contribute to America, I hope we take time to better educate each other about the reality of these injustices.

You can find more information on the Asian American and Pacific Islander Heritage Month here: https://asianpacificheritage.gov/.


ICYMI: AGO Week in Review

DoTerra’s 10th Anniversary Celebration
At a press conference celebrating the 10th Anniversary of doTerra International, AG Reyes introduced PROTECT prevention education program. Created by 3Strands Global, backed by doTerra International in partnership with the Office of the Attorney General of Utah, PROTECT will be introduced to schools across the state of Utah. 

You can learn more here: 
https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/on-its-10th-anniversary-doterra-is-confirmed-as-the-global-aromatherapy-and-essential-oils-leader-300639888.html
https://www.3strandsglobalfoundation.com/

Governor Signs H.C.R. 13 Providing Pro Bono Legal Services for Military and Veteran Communities
With the support of the Utah Bar, the Utah Attorney General’s Office and the Utah Department of Military and Veterans Affairs will coordinate helping provide limited legal services for those who have sacrificed most for our country.

You can watch the entire ceremony here: https://www.facebook.com/UtahAttorneyGeneral/videos/2159814210701576/.

Utah Opioid Task Force 
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and US DEA District Agent in Charge for the State of Utah Brian Besser welcomed US Senator Mike Lee as the newest member of the Utah Opioid Task Force. Senator Lee will join AG Reyes and DAC Besser as a co-chair of the task force. Additionally, the share the latest impact and actions of the task force moving forward.

Go here to learn more and watch the conference: https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/featured-content/utah-opioid-task-force-press-conference.

Assistant AG Ryan Holtan Prosecuted Utah Teacher Resulting in Prison Sentence
Michael Scott Hatfield, 59, was accused of covering his in-class camera while he looked at the child pornography that he had cut-and-pasted into two albums. Through the work of the ICAC team and prosecution, this was a big win for the AGO team. 

Read about the case here:
https://www.sltrib.com/news/2018/05/01/things-escalated-and-spiraled-into-a-dark-place-former-utah-teacher-sentenced-to-prison-for-bringing-homemade-pornography-scrapbooks-to-middle-school-classroom/
https://www.deseretnews.com/article/900017526/middle-school-teacher-with-child-porn-scrapbooks-sent-to-prison.html

Annual Law Enforcement Memorial Service
Members of the Attorney General’s Office were present during a moving tribute to those who’ve fallen in the line of duty. Thankfully, no new names were added to the memorial wall.

For more coverage of the service, go here: 
https://www.sltrib.com/news/2018/05/03/our-fallen-are-never-forgotten-no-new-names-of-killed-police-officers-added-to-utah-law-enforcement-memorial-at-annual-service/#gallery-carousel-5069945
https://www.sltrib.com/news/2017/12/29/no-utahns-among-the-128-law-enforcement-officers-killed-on-the-job-in-2017/


Utah Opioid Task Force Press Conference

Yesterday, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and US DEA District Agent in Charge for the State of Utah Brian Besser welcomed US Senator Mike Lee as the newest member of the Utah Opioid Task Force. Senator Lee will join AG Reyes and DAC Besser as a co-chair of the task force.

During the meeting, they also announced the following: 

  1. The Utah Attorney General’s Office will issue a request for information (RFI) in the ongoing investigation into the role of opioid manufacturers and distributors in causing and exacerbating the opioid epidemic. The RFI is a step towards filing a lawsuit against manufacturers and distributors.
  2. In conjunction with the DEA’s 360 Program, the Utah AGO, Senator Lee’s Office, and the DEA will partner to host a large fall conference on solutions to the opioid epidemic.
  3. An update on the Utah Take Back Initiative and its success in collecting unwanted, unused, and expired prescription drugs. 

You can watch the entire press conference here: https://www.facebook.com/UtahAttorneyGeneral/videos/2159878794028451/.


AGO & DEA Announce Utah Take Back Program

DEA AND AGO ANNOUNCE NATIONAL PRESCRIPTION DRUG TAKE BACK EVENT

 SALT LAKE CITY – The Utah Attorney General’s Office (AGO) and the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) announce Utah Take Back, a day set aside to help rid homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, or unwanted prescription drugs. The two offices encourage Utahns to participate in this year’s Take Back day on Saturday, April 28, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m at convenient locations across the state.

“Prescription drug abuse and deaths related to opioids have risen to epidemic levels in Utah and across the country. Opioid addiction has ravaged rural and urban areas as well as uptown and downtown neighborhoods. It has taken far too many lives and ruined countless more. Those who suffer from addiction may be soccer moms or executives. They can be star athletes, high achieving students, popular kids or “loners.” They are our kids, grandkids, and kids from the block.  And whether we realize it or not, our medicine cabinets might be the very place where they are looking or have already been for their next high or pill party,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.

According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), “the United States is in the midst of an opioid overdose epidemic.” In 2016, over 64,000 Americans died from drug overdose rates, which is on average 90 people a day. Utah has the 7th highest drug overdose rate in the United States, losing over 10 people a week. Since 2000, the rate of overdose deaths involving opioids has increased 400%. Last year, Utah collected over 33,000 pounds of prescription drugs to dispose of properly and the aim this year is to collect more.

DEA District Agent in Charge Brian Besser stated,

“In a coordinated response to the national heroin and opioid crisis, DEA is working aggressively with our federal, state, and local partners to address America’s prescription pill and heroin abuse problem.  Recently, DEA has implemented a 360 Strategy within the State of Utah to address this public health crisis, and the National Drug Takeback Initiative is a key component of that strategy.  Please partner with the DEA and the Utah Attorney General’s Office in taking determined steps to collect your un-used, unwanted, and expired prescription drugs so that they can be properly disposed of in a safe and environmentally friendly manner.  Help keep Utah drug safe!”

In addition to contributing to addictions and overdoses, improper disposal of unused and expired medications leads to damage to our environment. Medications that are flushed or poured down the drain can end up polluting our waters, impacting aquatic species, and contaminating our food and water supplies. Measurable amounts of antibiotics, antidepressants, and medications have all been found in U.S. lakes and rivers. Wastewater treatment and septic systems are unable to remove most medicines, which are a special type of hazardous chemical unsafe for solid waste systems and landfills. Drugs can be very toxic to people and wildlife, even in low doses. 

The Take Back service, provided through the partnership of the AGO, DEA, Department of Health, Utah National Guard, and Prevention Resource Centers, is free of charge and anonymous. Not only is it an effort to get the public to dispose of medications, but also to educate as many people as possible about the dangers prescriptions medications can pose.  The following items are returnable: prescription medicines; over the counter medicines; vitamins; pet medicines; medicated ointments and lotions; inhalers; liquid medicines in glass or leak-proof containers (up to 12 ounces); and medicine samples.

For more information about the April 28th Take Back and to find a collection site, visit www.utahtakeback.org.

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AG Speaks on Passing of Sam Granato

Tonight, Attorney General Sean Reyes shared the following upon hearing of the passing of Salt Lake City Councilman Sam Granato: 

“I’m so saddened to hear of Sam’s passing. He was not just a friend, but a mentor and like a big brother. It didn’t matter who you were; Sam treated you with respect and class. He certainly lived up to the high expectations of his family name in business, public service, and in life.”


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