Skip to content
Main Menu
Utah Attorney General
Search
Attorney General
Sean D. Reyes
Utah Office of the Attorney General
Alerts
Close
Secondary Navigation

Attorney General Reyes’ Washington and Lincoln Day Statement

SALT LAKE CITY February 20, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following Washington and Lincoln Day statement:  

As we celebrate the birthdays of two of our greatest presidents—George Washington and Abraham Lincoln—we can be grateful for the system of government they toiled to leave for us and future generations. Though the current political climate may at times feel heated and contentious, the recent transition of power in the White House was peaceful and has been so since the time of our nation’s founding. My occasional travels abroad have reinforced to me the miracle that is our Constitution, as well as the importance of our commitment as Americans to support it, however diverse we may be. We are blessed to witness power change from one American president to the next, without guns, tanks or armies to enforce such succession. This is in sharp contrast to the unrest and bloodshed over regime changes in many parts of the world. Again, we have much to be thankful for in celebrating these leaders of our past. Presidents Washington and Lincoln faced some of our nation’s greatest tests and we are the beneficiaries of their sweat and blood.”

# # #


Utah Attorney General’s Office Announces Guilty Plea in Bountiful Human Trafficking Case

Davis County, Utah  February 18, 2017 – The Office of the Utah Attorney General announced today the guilty plea on Thursday of Todd Jeremy Rettenberger to charges relating to human trafficking and related crimes.  Rettenberger was sentenced to one to fifteen years in prison for second-degree felony human trafficking and zero to five years for third-degree felony exploitation of prostitution. The sentences will run concurrently.

“The victims of this trafficker were girls, barely older than teens, forced into prostitution against their will and compelled to stay in “the life” by threats against their well-being and against their families. I am thrilled they will not have to endure a trial and be forced to relive the atrocities perpetrated upon them.  It is imperative that we now keep these survivors safe, avoid revictimizing them, empower them with resources and do everything we can to help them heal and reclaim their lives,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Importantly, this case demonstrates that human trafficking is real. It exists in Utah as it does across the nation and around the world. It takes many forms and can happen anywhere.

“I offer my sincerest thanks and congratulations to Assistant Attorney General Dan Strong who brought the charges and to our elite investigative unit, the Utah SECURE Strikeforce, for their work on this case. I also want to thank and acknowledge Detective Aric Barker of the Bountiful City Police Department, his agency, and his chief, for their efforts to bring this human trafficker to justice and protect these victims.  Lastly, I reiterate my deep appreciation to each federal, state, county and city law enforcement agency that works side-by-side with the Utah AGO every day to disrupt human trafficking and related crimes in all their insidious forms.”

Rettenberger was charged in April of 2016 after police received reports that he was running a commercial sex operation out of Bountiful, along the Wasatch Front, and into other states. The Utah Attorney General’s Office’s SECURE Strike Force in conjunction with the Bountiful City Police Department investigated the allegations and found two women who were victimized by Rettenberger as part of this operation.  The women alleged that Rettenberger used forceful and coercive tactics, including threats of violence, physical violence, exploitation of their drug dependencies, and financial coercion.

The Utah Attorney General’s Office administers and coordinates the SECURE Strike Force partnership with the Utah Department of Public Safety and county, federal and city law enforcement agencies to combat violent and other major felony crimes associated with illegal immigration and human trafficking.

The mission of the Utah Attorney General SECURE Strike Force is to carefully target major fraud, organized gun, drug and human trafficking, detect creation of fraudulent government identification and other documents, and prosecute these crimes with specialized investigators and resources and a dedicated Assistant Attorney General prosecutor. The SECURE Strike Force works closely with the Utah Trafficking in Person’s Task Force. Learn more about the SECURE Strike Force here

# # #


AG Reyes Congratulates Judge Holmberg on His Appointment and Confirmation to Utah’s Third District Court

Kent Holmberg

SALT LAKE CITY February 16, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following statement on Utah Senate’s confirmation of Judge Kent Holmberg, a former Utah Assistant Attorney General, to Utah’s Third District Court.

“We congratulate Judge Holmberg on his appointment and confirmation to the Third District Court and express our confidence in his character, ability, and judgment in that capacity,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Given the caliber of attorneys within our ranks, we are honored but not surprised to see one of our own take the bench.” 

Judge Holmberg worked in the Utah Attorney General’s Office as an assistant attorney general starting in 2012. Prior to his service for the state, he was a trial attorney in Salt Lake City for several years after nearly two decades of legal practice in Minnesota. Holmberg has also taught at various Minnesota state colleges and universities on subjects ranging from evidence law to Indian law and trial practice. Holmberg was formerly a certified public accountant.

# # #


Attorney General Reyes Testifies in Support of HB199

Proposed law would fight the trafficking of adopted children

SALT LAKE CITY February 16, 2017 – A bill before the Utah legislature would implement safeguards to protect adopted children from “rehoming,” the illegal practice of adoptive parents giving away their adopted children away to strangers without the usual home study or background checks performed to protect children. At the invitation of the US Department of State, the Utah Attorney General’s Office joined national a committee two years ago tasked with addressing the illegal phenomenon and exploring model legislation for other states around the country. The bill, HB 199, was passed out of the House Judiciary Committee with a favorable recommendation.

“Getting the bill out of committee is a positive step in the right direction,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “This bill isn’t designed to be overly punitive towards adoptive parents.  We know the vast majority of adoptive parents have only the most noble of intentions when bringing adopted children into their families. But the reality is that many adopted kids coming from overseas environments have been victims of terrible abuse in war-torn countries or experienced severe trauma from the horrors of torture, famine, abuse or other atrocities.  Some adoptive parents who become overwhelmed by the cultural, emotional and psychological challenges of highly traumatized children, panic and end up desperate.  In too many situations, parents have literally given away their children to strangers like they might with old furniture, beginning with an online communication or transaction.

“This bill provides these adoptive parents more resources to face such challenges or find another adoptive family through legal processes rather than simply giving away, selling or abandoning their adopted child.  Without a law at the federal and state level prohibiting this kind of transfer of custody, thousands of kids will continue to be placed into the hands of human traffickers, pimps, rapists and other predators. In short, this bill is absolutely necessary to protect children and assist adoptive families. It allows the state to better educate and inform adoptive parents going into an adoption, empowering them to be more informed and prepared. And it more effectively keeps children out of the hands of potential abusers and predators.”

The practice of rehoming, facilitated by websites that connect overwhelmed adoptive parents with strangers, was discovered by journalists. The Utah Attorney General’s Office has supported the effort to combat this form of human trafficking along with other members of the State Department committee, including the U.S. Department of Justice; the U.S. Department of Human Services, Children’s Bureau; and the administrators of the Interstate Compact on the Placement of Children. By passing this HB199, the Utah Legislature will close the legal loopholes that have allowed the practice of rehoming to flourish.

Representative Merrill Nelson’s bill, with the support of the Utah Attorney General’s Office, takes a largely non-punitive approach to the problem of rehoming. The bill assures that, before committing to the adoption, prospective adoptive parents get accurate information about the specific child’s history and training about the challenging kinds of behavior adopted children can exhibit. The new law would make clear that sending an adoptive child to live permanently with a stranger outside the legal system is prohibited. Further, Utah Child Protective Services would have the authority to investigate the living situation of a child who has been sent to live with strangers without a legal transfer of custody.

The bill language was developed in cooperation with the Utah Adoption Council, which also voted unanimously to support the bill.

“The Utah Adoption Council supports the efforts of the Attorney General to address the phenomenon of rehoming,” said Larry Jenkins, Standards and Practice Chair at the Utah Adoption Council. “Families with high needs children need to know what options are available to them, and this bill is a model for other states and a giant step forward towards helping these families.”

# # #


AG Reyes Thanks AAG Laura Lockhart for Years of Service

Laura Lockhart is retiring from the Utah Attorney General’s Office after 30 years of service.

SALT LAKE CITY February 15, 2017 – After 30 years with the Utah Attorney General’s Office, Laura Lockhart will retire this month. Laura was honored by a reception at the Department of Environmental Quality, where she has been the state-agency counsel for many years.

Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following statement on Laura’s retirement today:

“Laura has been an amazing asset to Utah and the Utah Attorney General’s office, where she has served as a tireless public servant over a distinguished legal career. Additionally, Laura has been a steady and guiding hand in the development and implementation of our state open records laws, helping our office navigate the difficult balance of transparency and privacy while also fulfilling our mission to provide the outstanding legal services to our state clients.

“On a personal note, Laura is known throughout our office for her kindness, her devotion and sincerity, and her willingness to step up to take on additional work when the need arises. She leaves a legacy of grateful friends and colleagues, and I wish her all the best in her future endeavors.”

Laura has represented the Utah Department of Environmental Quality for thirty years. She has worked primarily the Division of Radiation Control and Water  Quality,  but also specializes in administrative procedures and government records law. Laura is a graduate of the University of Utah and attended law school at Yale. In addition to her duties at the DEQ, Laura has always gone above and beyond in sharing her time and expertise assisting other attorneys in the Utah Attorney General’s Office with requests under the Utah Government Records Management Act, or GRAMA, and has always been deeply committed to government openness and accountability. 

Several colleagues expressed their appreciation for Laura when they heard she was retiring, including Blaine Ferguson, who worked closely with Laura on GRAMA.

“Laura is one of the most loyal and dedicated public servants I have ever known,” said Blaine Ferguson.  “When the “call to arms” is heard, she willingly offers her help, even if she is already busy with a heavy workload and the timing is inconvenient.  Furthermore, because of her commitment to public service, she has often volunteered to take on projects on her own initiative.  She is one of those good persons who sees a need and then addresses it, without being asked.  Even when a task is difficult or awkward, Laura accepts it without flinching, because she sincerely cares about the Attorney General’s Office, her clients, and the interests of the people of Utah.

“Laura has had a long and honorable career in the Attorney General’s Office.  Assigned to advise and represent the Department of Environment Quality, she has provided faithful service to her client agency through many challenging times.  But that has only been her “day job.”  Somehow she has always found time (often well into the evening) to serve in other areas, particularly in the legal minefield of government records law.  She was a key player in drafting Utah’s original Government Records Access and Management Act (GRAMA), and the proper classification and handling of government records has continued to be one of her passions for over 25 years. 

“Laura has several gifts that have helped her make an invaluable contribution to the work of the Attorney General’s Office: tirelessness, a brilliant legal mind, a keen sense of ethics, honesty, candor, common sense and a great sense of humor.  And, on top of it all, she has admirable personal values, fun outside interests (such as birding) and a love for her family that round her out as a person.  I am grateful to have had the opportunity to work closely with Laura for many years.  She has been a great mentor, a tremendous help, and a true friend.  I wish her the very best.”

Laura is also an amateur astronomer, photographer, and an avid bird watcher, or birder, and has served on the Tracy Aviary board. In addition, Laura was one of the founding members of the Open Classroom community school. Laura is a devoted mom to her daughter Maisie and constant companion to her canine friends.

# # #

 


Utah Attorney General’s Office Announces the Sentencing of Dee Allen Randall

SALT LAKE CITY  February 7, 2017 – The Utah Attorney General’s Office announces the sentencing of Dee Allen Randall in one of the largest frauds ever investigated by the Utah Division of Securities. Randall was sentenced on Monday in the Third District Court of Utah by the Honorable Judge Mark Kouris to multiple consecutive terms. He will serve a sentence of 9 to 30 years in prison.  

The damage done by Dee Randall—financially, emotionally, psychologically, and to the health of victims—can never be fully undone.  But I hope this conviction and sentence sends the message to all perpetrators in Utah that we will find and aggressively prosecute those who prey on the vulnerable and who defraud honest, hard-working Utahns,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “I congratulate Assistant Attorney General Jake Taylor, Paralegal Sheree Wilcox, and the rest of the White Collar and Commercial Enforcement Division of the Utah Office of Attorney General for their outstanding work on this case.  We are also grateful for the invaluable efforts of our partners at the Utah Division of Securities in this case.  Finally, we thank legislators from both parties for having the vision and commitment to fund assets toward increased investigation and prosecution of white-collar crime.”  

“Dee Randall is one of the most damaging white-collar cases our Division of Securities has ever investigated. Randall preyed on friends, neighbors and used insurance agents under him to funnel investors into his scheme which destroyed the lives and nest eggs of 700 victims, many of whom were elderly, “said Francine A. Giani, Executive Director, Utah Department of Commerce, “We are grateful for the tireless efforts of the Utah Attorney General’s Office, for 3rd District Judge Mark Kouris’ swift justice and a special thanks to the victims for having the courage to share their stories with the court.”

In 2016, Randall was convicted by plea of multiple counts of securities fraud and a pattern of unlawful activity for operating his insurance-based Ponzi scheme. In Monday’s sentencing, Judge Kouris’ sentenced Randall to three consecutive sentences of 3 to 15 years in prison.  In addition, Randall was sentenced to additional concurrent prison terms of 3 to 15 years and 1 to 15 years.


# # #


AG Reyes Statement on Passing of UPD Detective Holdaway

SALT LAKE CITY February 2, 2017 – Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following statement on the passing of Unified Police Department Detective Brian Holdaway.          

“Detective Brian Holdaway was a valuable member of our ICAC team for a number of years, and we feel his loss deeply. I offer the sincere condolences of our whole office to Detective Holdaway’s family, as well as to Sheriff Winder and the Unified Police Department.”

# # #


Attorney General Sean Reyes, 20-State Coalition Urges Senate Confirmation of Judge Gorsuch to Supreme Court

SALT LAKE CITY February 2, 2017  — Attorney General Sean Reyes joined a 20-state coalition in urging Senate leaders to confirm the nomination of Neil Gorsuch to the U.S. Supreme Court.

The coalition expressed its support in a Wednesday afternoon letter sent to Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell, Minority Leader Chuck Schumer, Senate Judiciary Chairman Chuck Grassley and Senate Judiciary Ranking Member Patrick Leahy.

The letter urges the Senate, including Senator Orrin Hatch and Senator Mike Lee, to confirm Judge Gorsuch without delay.

“I applaud President Trump’s decision to nominate Judge Neil Gorsuch, a committed textualist and fellow westerner, to the Supreme Court of the United States,” said Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes. “By any objective measure, Judge Gorsuch is a sterling, eminently qualified nominee in the mainstream of American jurists. His decade-long record on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals—where he was confirmed by a voice vote in the Senate—shows that if he is confirmed, Judge Gorsuch will bring to the nation’s highest Court a keen intellect, a vibrant pen, and a healthy respect for the judiciary’s proper role in our constitutional system. I urge the Senate to give Judge Gorsuch the up-or-down vote he deserves—and to confirm him as the next Associate Justice of the Supreme Court.”

President Trump, in nominating Judge Gorsuch, fulfilled a promise to nominate a jurist who shared the late Justice Antonin Scalia’s commitment to interpreting the Constitution as it was originally written.

The coalition believes Judge Gorsuch is particularly well-suited to enforce the Constitution’s limits on federal overreach and protect the role of individual states. Federal agencies have consistently overstepped the bounds of their authority under the Constitution, to the detriment of the states, during the past eight years.

Judge Gorsuch offers a positive change. He respects the role of state governments and has consistently defended the constitutional rights to freedom of speech, religion and the right to bear arms.

The Senate previously confirmed Judge Gorsuch with broad, bipartisan support to the 10th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The coalition’s letter finds no reason why a jurist of such immense qualifications should not receive prompt confirmation once again.

Those signing the letter were state attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Arkansas, Florida, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, West Virginia, Wisconsin, and Wyoming.

Read a full copy of the letter at http://bit.ly/2jDSp8j.

# # #


McFarland Pleads Guilty to Two Counts of Aggravated Murder

Sentenced to life without parole

SANPETE COUNTY, Utah  January 25, 2017 – The Office of the Utah Attorney General and the Sanpete County Attorney’s Office today announced the guilty plea and sentence of Logan Welles McFarland for the two charges of aggravated murder in relation to the December 30, 2011, robbery and murder of Leroy and Dorotha Ann Fullwood in their Mt. Pleasant home.  McFarland pleaded guilty to two counts of first-degree aggravated murder. For each count, Judge Marvin D. Bagley of the Sixth District Court sentenced McFarland to life without parole with the sentences to run consecutively.

“This is a great day for the victim’s family, the Sanpete community, and the state of Utah,” said Sanpete County Attorney Brody Keisel. “Justice was served.”

Late on the evening of December 29, 2011, McFarland was in Mt. Pleasant with a plan to commit robbery to get money for drugs.  He had already stolen items from one home in Mt. Pleasant the day before and decided to come back a second time. McFarland was dropped off, armed with a .22 magnum caliber gun, at a church parking lot near the Fullwood home.  Removing a screen, McFarland entered the house through an unlocked window leading to a bedroom inside the Fullwood residence.

Once inside, McFarland shot the Fullwoods multiple times, killing both. The morning after the robbery and murders, McFarland visited his brother at his trailer in Moroni where he told his brother he had “dispatched lives in Sanpete County” and that a “mission had gone south.”  McFarland also told his brother he was leaving the area and wanted to say goodbye.  McFarland fled to Nevada and was eventually apprehended and arrested in the Nevada desert.  

Prosecuted by the Sanpete County Attorney’s Office and Utah Attorney General’s Office, the prosecution included Sanpete County Attorney Brody Keisel and Deputy County Attorney Kevin Daniels; Utah Attorney General’s Office Division Director Greg  Ferbrache, Criminal Deputy Craig Barlow,  Special Prosecutions Director Janise Macanas, and Special Prosecutions Paralegal Rosie McDonough. The case was investigated in cooperation with multiple Sanpete jurisdictions, including the Sanpete Sheriff’s Office, and a special thanks are extended to Nevada for cooperation in the case.

# # #


Texas Four Plead Guilty to Charges Relating to Theft of Dinosaur Bones

WAYNE COUNTY, Utah January 20, 2017 – The Office of the Utah Attorney General (OAG) and Wayne County Attorney’s Office (WCA) today announced the guilty pleas of four individuals to charges relating to tampering with and theft of dinosaur bones from Bureau of Land Management (BLM) lands in Wayne County, Utah in May 2015.   

“Utah’s archaeological and natural treasures contribute greatly to its beauty and allure and are an important part of what makes our state unique. This case demonstrates that anyone who illegally takes, tampers with, or disturbs our hidden treasures and natural resources will face criminal charges,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.

“My thanks and congratulations to the entire investigation and prosecution team,  including Special Prosecutions Director Janise Macanas, Assistant Utah Attorney General Matthew Lloyd, and Paralegal Rosie McDonough of the (OAG) Justice Division’s Special Prosecutions Section, as well as Wayne County Attorney LeEllen McCartney.  The investigative team was spearheaded by (OAG) Investigation Division Special Agent Ronald Barton and BLM Agent Daniel Barnes. We are also grateful to the McLennan Community College for its cooperation.”

The individuals, all Texas residents, were in Utah as part of a geology expedition from McLennan Community College in Waco, Texas. Led by Philip Bukowski of Crawford, Texas, they entered Utah’s School and Institutional Trust Lands (SITLA) area, removed dinosaur bones and took them back to Texas. Additionally, the individuals were accused of damaging the area surrounding the dinosaur bones.  Bureau of Land Management agents made successful efforts to locate and seize the dinosaur bones.

Today, before the Honorable Judge Wallace A. Lee, in the Sixth Judicial District Court in Loa, Utah, Philip Bukowski entered a guilty plea to one count Third Degree Felony Theft, Paige Bukowski entered a guilty plea to one count Class A Misdemeanor Theft, and Travis York entered a guilty plea to one count Class A Misdemeanor Criminal Mischief.   The fourth defendant, Crystal Webster, entered an earlier plea to one count Class A Misdemeanor Theft.  All pleas are held in abeyance until the court’s conditions are met, including a restitution order in the amount of $6,417.84.

 

# # #


Site SettingsSettings