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AG Sean Reyes Statement on on Veterans Day 2017

Attorney General Sean Reyes issued the following statement on Veterans Day 2017:

This month, as we focus on giving thanks, it is more than appropriate that at least one day is specifically dedicated to honoring our military men and women. Thank you to all who have served in uniform and who have sacrificed both on duty and upon returning home. Thank you to family members who have spent time and precious moments away from deployed loved ones. And our deepest thanks to each gold star family who has given the greatest sacrifice for our nation.  

We celebrate Veterans Day in the Attorney General’s office by remembering all who have served our country, including many of our own employees. Personally, I honor my own family members who fought in world wars, some who signed up for the draft during a time when even their loyalty to their country was in question. I also pay tribute to those modern-day veterans like my brother-in-law who served in the Middle East after the attacks on September 11.  

I am humbled each time I’m privileged to recognize a veteran with an award for his or her service and contribution to our community and country. Our office is dedicated to finding ways to serve our veteran community as a whole, recognizing that as a group, they are statistically one of our most vulnerable. We appreciate that their service has often affected them in ways that make them more susceptible to post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and suicide.  

Far too many vets–over twenty a day–are lost nationwide to suicide. Some reports indicate we have lost more veterans of Middle East conflicts to suicide than to combat. In battle, we speak of leaving no one behind. In a return to civilian life, we leave far too many Vets behind. Additionally, a disproportionate number of Vets are homeless and lacking needed medical attention.  

I hope this Veterans day is a reminder that we, as a community, must re-focus on helping our service men and women overcome the challenges of job displacement and the hurdles of reintegration, offering healthcare, resources, and support for those who are too often fighting a different, internal battle at home.


Utah Attorney General

AG Sean Reyes Joins Bipartisan Letter Urging PBMs to Implement Opioid Mitigation Programs

SALT LAKE CITY October 20, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes has joined with a bipartisan group of attorneys general from across the country in letters to 15 healthcare companies that provide pharmacy benefit management (PBM) services encouraging the companies to implement programs to mitigate prescription opioid abuse.

The attorneys general also sent a letter to the president and CEO of CVS Health Corporation applauding the company’s recent program that automatically enrolled all commercial, health plan, employer and Medicaid clients in an opioid abuse mitigation program.

“As Attorney General, I have seen far too much devastation to Utah families and communities from opioids. In our fight against this epidemic we have learned that all too often addiction starts with prescription medication,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. 

“I applaud pharmacies like CVS who are proactively implementing policies to lessen the likelihood of addiction by patients. We urge other companies to follow their lead. Limiting the duration and dosage of opioids, among other solutions, will likely decrease significantly the number of new addicts.

“Working with pharmacies is part of the Utah Opioid Task Force’s multi-layered approach with many stakeholders including manufacturers, prescribers, insurance companies, law enforcement & the recovery community to comprehensively address the opioid threat ravaging our nation.”

In their letters to the PBMs, the attorneys general asked that the companies adopt similar measures as CVS, including limiting to seven days the supply of opioids dispensed for certain acute prescriptions for patients who are new to the therapy, limiting the daily dosage of opioids dispensed based on the strength of the opioid, and requiring the use of immediate-release formulations of opioids before extended-release opioids are dispensed. The CVS program’s requirements are similar to the opioid prescribing guidelines recently issued by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC).  

The multistate PBM letters were sent to:

  • Argus Health Systems, Inc.
  • Benecard Servies LLC
  • Envision Pharmaceutical Services LLC
  • Envolve Health
  • Express Scripts, Inc.
  • Humana, Inc.
  • Magellan Rx Management
  • MedImpact Healthcare Systems, Inc.
  • Navitus Health Solutions LLC
  • OptumRX , Inc.
  • PerformRx
  • Prime Therapeutics, Inc.
  • ProCare Rx
  • RxAdvance
  • WellDyneRx

“While there are no doubt additional measures that pharmacy benefit managers could take to combat prescription opioid abuse, we believe over-prescribing of opioids could be curtailed by the implementation of a CVS-type program,” the attorneys general wrote.

“The opioid epidemic is the most pressing public health crisis our country faces,” the attorneys general wrote. “It affects every state and has a devastating impact on communities – tearing apart families and stretching the budgets of local law enforcement and first responders as they do the difficult work on the front lines. For our part, attorneys general are pooling resources and coordinating across party lines to address the crisis.”

Opioids, both prescription and illicit, are now the main driver of drug overdose deaths nationwide. According to CDC, opioids were involved in 33,091 deaths in 2015, and opioid overdoses have quadrupled since 1999. The Utah Department of Health reports in Utah 23 individuals die from prescription drug overdoses every month, and from 2013-2015, Utah ranked 7th in the U.S. for drug poisoning deaths. From 2000 to 2015 Utah saw a nearly 400% increase in deaths from the misuse and abuse of prescription drugs.

In addition to AG Sean Reyes, those joining one or both of today’s letters include attorneys general from Alabama, Arizona, Connecticut, Delaware, Georgia, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Montana, New Hampshire, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Virginia, West Virginia, the District of Columbia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Please click here to view these letters.
https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/wp-content/uploads/2017/10/Letters-to-CVS-and-PMBs.pdf

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EDITORS NOTES:

1. Find drug overdose death data on the CDC site: https://www.cdc.gov/drugoverdose/data/statedeaths.html

2. For Utah specific data on prescription drug overdoses visit: http://health.utah.gov/vipp/topics/prescription-drug-overdoses/

 


Utah Attorney General's Office

AG Reyes Statement on Las Vegas Shooting

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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National Crime Prevention Month

October: National Crime Prevention Month

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.

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AG Reyes Statement on Rosh Hashanah

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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AG Reyes Recognizes World Suicide Prevention Day

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:

  • Suicide
  • Self-harm
  • Emotional crisis
  • Grief and loss
  • Drug and alcohol problems
  • Mental health
  • Abuse
  • Impact of domestic violence

 

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Utah Attorney General

Former Daggett County Sheriff and Deputies Enter Guilty Pleas

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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AG Reyes Statement on Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (DACA)

SALT LAKE CITY September 4, 2017 – Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes issued the following statement regarding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals program, or DACA, following reports that the President would be ending the program:

“DACA is a creation of executive order that can be undone by executive order. It is why for years many leaders at the state level, including myself, have advocated for immigration reform by Congress that would have greater permanence and legal legitimacy.

“If President Trump rescinds the DACA executive order, which I believe he has every right to do, I strongly encourage him to allow enough time for Congress to pass legislation providing a path for Dreamers that takes into account the values they have exemplified to this point. It is incumbent on Congress to take up with urgency an issue it should have acted upon a long time ago.

“In my view, it would be inhumane if Congress fails to find a solution for those who may have come unlawfully as children but who are otherwise law abiding, productive, and committed to defending America. There are several proposed bills already being discussed to that end. At the same time, it would be irresponsible for Congress not to tackle at least some of the other pressing immigration issues facing our nation as part of such a solution.

“We must find a way to make sure that we are not in the exact same position ten or twenty years from now. This will only come with increased control of our borders, a more sensible approach to immigration policy, and a much more disciplined and consistent enforcement of that policy.

“It is unconscionable to deport a young person who came to this country as a child or even infant without any choice of their own. These kids are our kids too. They grew up next door to you and me, played on the little league teams we coached, went to school with our children, worked in local businesses, and by and large, they are leading productive lives contributing to our economy and the strength of America.

“These children grew up believing they are American and so many of them have lived lives of which America can be proud. Rather than deporting those in whom America has already invested many resources, I urge Congress to pass legislation that provides a workable path forward so these young people can prove their ongoing commitment to this country and benefit all of us with their talents and skills. This can be done as we strengthen borders, security, and the economic viability of America.”

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Office of the Attorney General Statement on DEA’s Access to the Prescription Drug Database

SALT LAKE CITY August 14, 2017 – After consultation with Utah Governor Gary Herbert and his agencies, the Utah Attorney General’s Office will not appeal the decision of US District of Utah Judge David Nuffer’s to allow the US Drug Enforcement Agency (DEA) access to the state’s Controlled Substance Database to obtain prescription drug records for an investigation.

While the decision is limited to the DEA’s exercise of administrative subpoena power for its investigation, Utah law continues to require other non-federal law enforcement to obtain a warrant prior to gaining access to the database. However, after consultation with the Governor’s Office, the DEA, and Legislative leadership, the Attorney General’s Office will pursue legislation that will introduce additional safeguards, protections, and limitations on who can access the prescription drug database. While it is important that law enforcement have access to necessary tools to fight the illicit use of prescription drugs in the fight against the opioid epidemic, it is critical that individuals privacy and constitutional rights be protected from violation or abuse.


AG Reyes Condemns Acts of Hate and Violence in Charlottesville

SALT LAKE CITY August 14, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following statement regarding events in Charlottesville, Virginia over the weekend:

“The cowardly acts of hate and violence perpetrated in Charlottesville on Saturday were abhorrent. Sadly, they are indicative of racial and religious bigotry not only tolerated but advocated by too many in our nation. As the son of minority parents, I have seen them endure discrimination, abuse, and persecution due to the color of their skin. Threats to our own family have come because of our heritage. So I am deeply and personally familiar with the feelings of exclusion and dread that come when we allow such bigotry to exist. I applaud all those who have raised their voices to denounce it.

“While I fight to uphold First Amendment freedoms, I condemn those who violate such precious rights for such vile purposes; namely, to preach hate and harm toward fellow Americans. No matter what rights are being exercised, hate is never right! Hate is not American! And we are Americans and human beings first and foremost. Our collective resolve to stand up toward hatred and bigotry must continue today and every day. And over time, only love can ultimately bend us toward justice and acceptance.”


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