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Attorney General Sean Reyes Joins 20-State Coalition Urging EPA to Respect the States in WOTUS Review

SALT LAKE CITY June 20, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes joined a 20-state coalition in requesting the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency preserve the role of the states in protecting the nation’s water sources.

The coalition filed its letter Monday as part of the EPA’s ongoing review of its Waters of the United States (WOTUS) rule. The attorneys general outlined regulatory overreach present in the existing rule and offered suggestions to better respect the authority of states going forward.

“The WOTUS Rule is unlawful…and significantly impinges upon the States’ traditional role as the primary regulators of land and water resources within their borders,” Attorney General Reyes joined in writing. “We write to suggest how the [EPA and U.S. Army Corps of Engineers] can write a rule that respects Congress’s instruction.”

The letter requests a concrete definition of the term “waters of the United States.” In doing so, it suggests the EPA and the Army Corps of Engineers should preserve the states’ role in protecting water resources, especially those within the border of individual states.

The attorneys general also suggest any final definition should adopt a framework consistent with Supreme Court precedent. That includes that federal agencies can only assert authority over permanent, standing or continuously flowing bodies of water forming geographic features.

The letter expresses that rather than claiming jurisdiction over vast amounts of water and land, EPA and Army Corps of Engineers should consider the active role each state already plays in safeguarding its waterways.

The Obama-era regulation, if implemented, would have taken jurisdiction over natural resources from states and put it in the hands of federal agencies. This included almost any body of water, such as isolated streams, hundred-year floodplains, and roadside ditches.

Many of these states won a nationwide stay that blocked enforcement of the rule and proved crucial in providing time for a new administration to reconsider the rule.

Utah Attorney General Reyes signed the letter with West Virginia, Wisconsin, Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, Georgia, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Missouri, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, and Texas.

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

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Utah Attorney General’s Office Files San Juan County Sheriff’s Office Case

SAN JUAN COUNTY, Utah May 12, 2017 – The Office of the Utah Attorney General (OAG) announced today that it filed charges against the San Juan County Sheriff and two of his deputies for criminal misconduct involving another person within the San Juan Sheriff’s Office and obstructing the investigation into that misconduct.  The charges come after an investigation by the OAG.

“It is never pleasant to bring charges against a fellow public servant, but when it is necessary, we will diligently do our jobs to assist the Court in holding them accountable,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.

The OAG Justice Division’s Special Prosecutions Section charged San Juan County Sheriff Richard A. Eldredge with one felony and three misdemeanor counts, including Retaliation against a Witness or Victim, Reckless Endangerment, Obstruction of Justice, and Official Misconduct.  Chief Deputy Sheriff Alan P. Freestone is charged with one felony and two misdemeanors, including Retaliation against a Witness or Victim, Obstruction of Justice, and Official Misconduct. Deputy Robert J. Wilcox is charged with three misdemeanors, including Reckless Endangerment, Obstruction of Justice, and Official Misconduct.

If convicted, the felony charges carry a maximum penalty of up to five years in prison and a fine up to $5000.00.  The misdemeanor charges carry a maximum jail sentence of one year for a Class A Misdemeanor and six months for a Class B Misdemeanor.  Each Defendant is presumed innocent until and unless convicted in accordance with the law.

 

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Utah AG Announces Sentencing of Emilio Daniel Chavez

Sentenced to 2-30 years for Sexual Exploitation of a Minor

WEST JORDAN, Utah May 12, 2017 –   The Utah Attorney General’s Office announced that earlier this week 26-year-old Emilio Daniel Chavez, was sentenced to 2-30 years in the Utah State Prison. Chavez was sentenced by Judge William K. Kendall based on the Chavez’ conviction for four counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor (i.e. possessing, viewing, distributing images of child pornography) following a three-day jury trial.

“Like all those in my office who work on these disturbing cases, I am sickened by the crimes against children perpetrated by individuals like Mr. Chavez,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “I hope victims, whether from this case or others, feel some justice has occurred with his conviction but I understand that they can be dealing with the aftermath of their exploitation for a lifetime.

“My congratulations to Special Agent Bret Richmond, Investigator for the Utah Attorney General’s Office, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), Det. Jeff Wabel of the Utah County Sheriff’s Office, Det. Sgt. Ronald C. Bridge of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office, and Assistant Attorney General Cynthia Poulson and Assistant Attorney General Kent Burggraaf for their hard work in investigating and prosecuting this heinous crime. We cannot say enough about the importance of the fight against pedophiles who create, sell, trade and view child pornography.”

ICAC agent Det. Sgt. Ronald C. Bridge stated, “This is a gruesome crime that goes on behind closed doors, in front of a computer screen, ICAC will continue to work tirelessly to bring these kinds of perpetrators to justice.”

The investigation into the Chavez’s criminal activities began in December of 2012.  Then Special Agent, Bret Richmond, Investigator for the Utah Attorney General’s Office, Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC), began investigating Chavez’s Internet activities after a lead from ICAC affiliate Utah County Sheriff’s Office Det. Jeff Wabel, specifically focusing on video Chavez was suspected of sharing and distributing over the Internet.  

After several months of attempting to locate him, Chavez was interviewed in November 2013.  His laptop computer was seized for further forensic examination after ICAC agents located several images of child pornography.  Forensic examiner Matthew Anderson of the Intermountain West Regional Computer Forensics Laboratory conducted a full forensic examination and located 1384 images of suspected child pornography and child erotica.  ICAC Agent Det. Sgt. Ronald C. Bridge of the Summit County Sheriff’s Office submitted the images to the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC).  NCMEC’s Child Victim Identification Program located at least four known identified victims.  

Upon completion of the investigation and computer forensic examination, Assistant Attorney General Cynthia A. Poulson filed four counts of Sexual Exploitation of a Minor against Chavez.  The Attorney General’s Office obtained and filed a victim impact statement from one of the victims with the court.  

At sentencing, Judge Kendall stated, “the jury did not find your testimony credible and neither did I.”  Judge Kendall told Chavez the interests of justice were served by imposing a prison sentence.  

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AG Reyes Congratulates AAG Susan Eisenman on Appointment to Third District Juvenile Court

SALT LAKE CITY May 11, 2017 – The Office of the Attorney General released the following statement congratulating Utah Attorney General Division Director Susan Eisenman for her appointment by Governor Gary Herbert to the Third District Juvenile Court:

“Susan has been an amazing leader for our office and for the state and we are sad to see her leave,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “She is no-nonsense but fair and compassionate; meticulous yet remarkably efficient. Susan also possesses the rare combination of a brilliant legal mind, tremendous judgment and creativity in problem-solving and the ability to manage people in a most nurturing and productive way. Her clients, her division and all in the Utah Attorney General’s Office will feel her departure deeply. Nevertheless, we are thrilled by her appointment, and we know that she will serve the people of Utah from the bench with dignity, dedication, and brilliance, as she has throughout her career.”

Chief Civil Deputy Bridget Romano also commented: “I have known Susan Eisenman for several years now. She has been a trusted colleague, and one of my most valuable and creative managers. I cannot begin to fathom the hole that will be left in the office by her absence. The bench gains a tremendous legal mind and advocate for the interests of Utah’s children and the needs of the families. I wish Susan nothing but the best.”

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Utah Attorney General’s Office Files Daggett County Jail Case

Charged include former Daggett County Sheriff and Deputies

DAGGETT COUNTY, Utah May 5, 2017 – The Office of the Utah Attorney General (OAG) announced today that it filed charges against the former Daggett County Sheriff, Jerry Jorgensen, and several of his deputies for criminal misconduct involving inmates at the Daggett County Jail.  The charges come after an investigation by the Utah Department of Corrections (UDC) Law Enforcement Bureau. The UDC received allegations of criminal activity being perpetrated by deputies at the Daggett County Jail which houses inmates for the Utah State Prison. After completion of its investigation, the UDC requested that the OAG review the findings of the investigation.

“The alleged actions of at least one defendant constitute unbelievably inhumane conduct and a reprehensible miscarriage of justice and the actions of all the defendants are inexcusable,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.

The OAG Special Prosecutions Section charged former Daggett County Sheriff Deputy Joshua Cox with nine felony and two misdemeanor counts, including for Aggravated Assault, Transporting a Dangerous Weapon into the Secure Area of a Correctional Facility, Theft, and Reckless Endangerment. Former Daggett County Sheriff Deputy Ben Lail was charged with one felony for Aggravated Assault.  Misdemeanor charges were also filed against former Daggett County Sheriff Deputies Rodrigo Toledo and Logan Walker for Official Misconduct. Last, former Daggett County Sheriff Jerry Jorgensen was charged with Misdemeanor charges for  Misdemeanor, Failure of Sheriff to Safely Keep Inmates, Obstruction of Justice, and Official Misconduct.

The numerous alleged policy and criminal violations uncovered throughout the investigation by UDC led to the removal of all Utah State inmates from the Daggett County Jail.  Jerry Jorgensen has resigned as Sheriff and a number of the deputies have been terminated by Daggett County.

Probable cause statements are attached below.

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Former Kane County Treasurer Pleads Guilty to Misuse of Public Money

KANE COUNTY, Utah May 4, 2017 – The Office of the Utah Attorney General (OAG) announced the guilty plea of Georgia Baca today for charges related to the misuse of public money in her capacity as treasurer in Kane County, Utah. Baca resigned as Kane County Treasurer in March of 2016 after the Utah State Auditor’s Office released a report alleging that Baca had been stealing money for personal use for three years.

“I hope this brings some measure of closure to Kane County residents,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “As an elected official, the defendant held a fiduciary position with the citizens of her county.  Sadly, she breached this trust. While it is never pleasant to bring charges against a fellow public servant, when it is necessary we will diligently do our jobs to assist the Court in holding them accountable.

“My thanks and congratulations to the entire investigation and prosecution team, including Special Prosecutions Director Janise Macanas, Paralegal Rosie McDonough, Special Agent Christopher Walden, and Special Agent Aaron Jones.  We are also grateful to Kane County, and Utah State Auditor John Dougall and his office for their dedicated work throughout this process.”

“We appreciate the hard work of the Office of the Attorney General in prosecuting this important case,” said Utah State Auditor John Dougall. “Kane County Commission Chairman Clayson and other Kane County officials were very cooperative during our audit. This effort was the result of a conscientious individual noticing a suspicious transaction and raising that concern. The Office of the State Auditor is actively engaged in holding government officials accountable and rooting out waste, fraud, and abuse within government.”

“This has been a difficult case, and I am grateful to see justice served for the people of our county,” said Representative Mike Noel. “I am grateful to both the prosecutors of the Utah Attorney General’s Office and the Utah State Auditor, as well as to our own Kane County Attorney, Rob Van Dyke, for their professional handling of this case.”

Baca pleaded guilty to one count of Third Degree Felony Misuse of Public Money before the Honorable Judge Marvin D. Bagley in the Sixth Judicial District Court in Kanab, Utah.  The Court sentenced Baca to serve 30 days in jail.  Baca’s Utah State Prison sentence of between zero and five years was suspended, and she was placed on a 36-month probation. Baca was also ordered to pay $35,613 in restitution to Kane County.

 

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AG Reyes Statement on the Death of Catholic Bishop George H. Niederauer

SALT LAKE CITY May 2, 2017 – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes issued the following statement on the death of Catholic Bishop George H. Niederauer:

“Today, my wife Saysha and I had the honor and great pleasure to meet with His Excellency Bishop Oscar Azarcon Solis and just an hour later heard of the passing of His Excellency Bishop George H. Niederauer. Utah is incredibly blessed to have over a century and a half of spiritual strength, guidance, and support from Roman Catholic leadership in Utah through the Salt Lake City Diocese.

“As the eighth Bishop of Salt Lake City, Bishop Niederauer shared his exemplary life with our Utah community for nearly a decade (1996-2005) as he built a solid foundation of collaboration and heartfelt love for those of his own and other faiths. I remember his kindness and strength in our personal interactions. He is remembered with fondness and appreciation by many today.

“The Diocese of Salt Lake City, as well as all Utah citizens, are also greatly blessed to have the Most Reverend Bishop Solis appointed by Pope Francis as the 10th Bishop of Salt Lake City’s Roman Catholic Diocese. Bishop Solis possesses a combination of tremendous spiritual power, dedication, humility, and an amazing sense of humor. In a few short weeks, he has been out among communities of our state getting to know and love Utah and its people. His commitment to visit every school in the state is so impressive. I am proud to share my Filipino-American heritage with His Excellency and look forward to many years of working together to solve community problems and serve our fellowmen.”

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Attorney General’s Office Urges Eligible Utah Residents to Submit Claims for Provigil Settlement

To receive settlement funds, claims must be filed by June 25, 2017 

SALT LAKE CITY May 1, 2017 – Attorney General Sean Reyes urges Utah residents to file claims or make their views known on a $125 million multistate settlement that provides $35 million for distribution to consumers who paid for the brand-name drug Provigil or generic modafinil from June 24, 2006, to March 31, 2012.  The States asked and the court extended the time to file claims or express views on the settlement to June 25, 2017.

Provigil, which includes the active ingredient modafinil, is approved by the federal Food and Drug Administration (FDA) to improve wakefulness in adult patients with excessive sleepiness associated with narcolepsy, obstructive sleep apnea, and shift work disorder.

In August 2016, Utah and 47 other state attorneys general announced the settlement with biopharmaceutical company Cephalon and its affiliated companies, including Teva Pharmaceutical Industries, Teva Pharmaceuticals USA, and Barr Laboratories, that resolved allegations that the companies engaged in unlawful “pay-for-delay” anticompetitive conduct involving the patent exclusivity for Provigil.

The settlement included $35 million to compensate eligible consumers who may have been harmed by the alleged conduct. While the claims period has been advertised for several months, many consumers may not realize that the claims period will close. Originally, the deadline for consumers to file claims seeking to receive some of that $35 million or object to the settlement was Thursday, April 13, 2017.  The states sought and were granted an extension of the time to claim or object to June 25, 2017.

Eligible consumers are those who reside in the District of Columbia or any state other than California or Louisiana and who paid for brand-name Provigil or generic modafinil from June 24, 2006, to March 31, 2012. The total estimated recovery for Utah under the States’ settlement will be about $1.55 million, including compensation for Provigil purchases by these Utah consumers, and certain Utah government entities, and for the State.

For more information or to obtain a claim form, visit www.StateAGProvigilSettlement.com or call 1-877-236-1413.  

“Pay for delay” conduct occurs when a branded drug company seeks to unlawfully maintain its exclusive rights by paying a would-be generic competitor to delay entry into the market and thus keep prices at artificially high levels.

As the patent for Provigil neared expiration in 2001, the states alleged that Cephalon intentionally misled the United States Patent & Trademark Office (PTO) in order to secure an additional patent for the purpose of preventing competition. By misleading the PTO, Cephalon was able to obtain FDA exclusivity for modafinil until June 2006, and extend patent exclusivity until April 2012. A court subsequently deemed the additional patent invalid and unenforceable, but prior to that ruling, Cephalon was able to delay generic competition for over a decade by filing patent infringement lawsuits against all potential generic competitors.

Cephalon later settled lawsuits with its generic competitors in 2005 and early 2006 by paying them to delay the sale of their generic versions of Provigil until at least April 2012 – six years after expiration of FDA exclusivity but three years before patent expiration. The delayed entry allegedly cost consumers, states, and others hundreds of millions more for Provigil than if generic versions of the drug had launched by early 2006, as expected.

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Utah Taking Back Unwanted Prescription Drugs on April 29

 

At No Cost to Utah, AG Office Provides Breakthrough Technology to Reclaim Prescription Drug Pills in an Environmentally Friendly Manner

 

SALT LAKE CITY April 28, 2017 – The Utah Attorney General’s Office (AGO) encourages Utahns to participate in the Utah Take Back on Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at locations statewide. Utahns can prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Find a take-back site at www.utahtakeback.org. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. Additionally, eco-friendly reclamation bags donated at no cost to the state will be available for distribution from take-back locations.

“Prescription drug abuse, particularly for painkillers, has risen to epidemic levels nationwide, and Utah is no exception,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Prescription drugs, when administered and taken responsibly, can be a productive tool for pain management. But far too often, what begins innocently can lead to dependence and devastation.

“In addition to overprescription, unauthorized access to even properly prescribed painkillers is one of the biggest drivers toward addiction. Many users of street drugs like heroin start by abusing their own painkillers, then move to finding other people’s prescription drugs. Addicts may be soccer moms or executives. They can be our kids, grandkids, kids from the block, good students or bad students included.

“No community is immune. Addiction touches rural and urban areas, uptown or downtown neighborhoods alike. And whether we realize it or not, our medicine cabinets may be where they are looking next or where they may have already been.  By teaming up on Take Back Day with partners like the DEA, AARP, and businesses and citizens across our state, we will recover hundreds, if not thousands of pounds of prescription drugs.”

Improper disposal of unused and expired medications leads to damage of our environment. In the fight against opioid addiction, the AGO is grateful for eco-friendly reclamation bags donated at no cost to the state by private companies like Deterra and Mallinckrodt to thousands of Utah Take Back locations around the state. The bags can be filled with any pills, which they will dissolve and neutralize.  Measurable amounts of antibiotics, antidepressants, and medications have all been found in U.S. lakes and rivers. The eco-friendly, medication disposal system produced and donated for the Utah Take Back is highly effective in absorbing and firmly binding pharmaceuticals, rendering chemical compounds safe for landfills and reducing watershed contamination.

Utahns can prevent pill abuse and theft by ridding their homes of potentially dangerous expired, unused, and unwanted prescription drugs. Drop off unused, unneeded, and expired drugs is tomorrow, Saturday, April 29, from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at locations statewide, in addition to year-round locations. The service is free and anonymous, no questions asked. For more information about the April 29th Take-Bake and to find a collection site near you, visit www.utahtakeback.org.

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AGO Executes Search Warrants in Major Statewide Gambling-Device Enterprise

SALT LAKE CITY March 2, 2017 – The Utah Attorney General’s Office (AGO) announced today that AGO investigators, in a joint operation with local, state, and federal law enforcement partners, executed warrants to seize evidence of an alleged statewide enterprise related to illegal gambling machines. The operation identified over an estimated 500 machines or more at over 130 locations across the state.  Tips about illegal gambling devices were reported by citizens to legislators, Utah Senator Curt Bramble, Utah Representative Justin Fawson, and Utah Representative Norm Thurston, as well as from other sources. The investigation is ongoing.

“The Attorney General’s Office has focused its operation today on a large number of gambling devices that we allege are illegal under Utah statute,” said Utah Attorney General’s Office Investigations Chief Leo Lucey. “Because these devices are out in the open and are available to anyone, they present an especially dangerous threat to youth.”

“I appreciate the Attorney General’s office and the work they’ve done to address concerns that local law enforcement agencies brought to the attention of Representative Thurston and myself,” said Rep. Justin Fawson, District 7. “This was a coordinated effort between local law enforcement and the Attorney General’s office that resulted in bringing down an enterprise that was attempting to skirt the Utah gambling laws.”

“A question was raised whether coin pushers in local convenience stores were legal,” said Rep. Norm Thurston, District 64. “After learning the about the problems these machines create, it was made clear that statewide approach would be necessary to address this issue. Rep. Fawson and I appreciate the cooperation, hard work and response of the Attorney General’s office, investigators and agencies across the state to help resolve this issue.”

Utah law requires prosecutors and law enforcement to prosecute illegal gambling in Utah where ever it may be found. The Utah AGO takes this legislative mandate seriously and appreciates all of the various law enforcement agencies who have collaborated in this case. 

The following link contains clips that the media may use for purposes of their stories, if helpful. Click here for video. Click here for photography.

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