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Alan Dean McKee Pleads Guilty In Connection With Scam Impersonating LDS Church Officials

SALT LAKE CITY October 18, 2016 – The Utah Attorney General’s Mortgage and Fraud Unit announced today that Alan McKee of Benjamin has pleaded guilty to one count of a Pattern of Unlawful Activity and one count of Theft, all Second Degree Felonies. A separate case against Gary Anderson of Springville is ongoing.

According to charging documents, Anderson and McKee were previously accused of defrauding Ames Construction and two individuals out of approximately $1.2 million between July 2013 and October 2015. McKee is alleged to have sent letters to Ames Construction purporting to come from the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints (“LDS Church”) in connection with the construction of a building site in Elberta, Utah. Anderson is alleged to have assisted by making at least one phone call posing as an LDS Church official to an Ames Construction employee. McKee and Anderson were also alleged to have induced two victims to invest in a scheme to purchase excess farm equipment.

“Stopping white collar crime has always been one of my highest priorities for the Utah Attorney General’s Office,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Our investigators, paralegals, attorneys and staff work tirelessly to stop scams and shut down fraudsters.

“I appreciate the hard work by Che Arguello, Assistant Attorney General and Division Director of White Collar and Commercial Enforcement, and Brian Williams, Mortgage and Financial Fraud Unit Section Director, and their team for their hard work to build this case.”

The investigation was assisted by Tyson Downey from the Investigations Division and Richard Hales from the Utah County Attorney’s Office Investigations Division.

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Utah Attorney General's Office

Attorney General Warns Utahns of Telephone Scam Spoofing Utah State Treasurer’s Office Phone Number

Fraudulent Callers Claim to be IRS Agents Collecting Back Taxes

SALT LAKE CITY October 17, 2016 – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes announced today that the Office of the Attorney General has received reports of Utahns receiving fraudulent, unsolicited phone calls from aggressive individuals claiming to be IRS officials collecting back taxes. The fraudulent callers are spoofing the Utah Office of the Treasurer’s phone number (801-538-1042) to gain credibility. The Office of Utah State Treasurer does not collect taxes (federal, state or otherwise).

The fraudulent callers demand the victim immediately pay a bogus tax bill via credit card, pre-loaded debit card or wire transfer. If the victim does not cooperate, they are intimidated with threats of arrest, deportation or other harmful measures.

The IRS website advises if you receive a call and do not suspect you owe federal income tax:  

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Contact TIGTA to report the call. Use their “IRS Impersonation Scam Reporting” web page or call 800-366-4484.
  • Report it to the Federal Trade Commission. Use the “FTC Complaint Assistant” on FTC.gov. Please add “IRS Telephone Scam” in the notes.

If you receive a call and know you owe federal income tax or think you may owe federal income tax:

  • Do not give out any information. Hang up immediately.
  • Call the IRS at 800-829-1040. IRS workers can help you.  
  • Stay alert to scams using the IRS as a lure. Tax scams can happen any time of year, not only at tax time. For more information visit “Tax Scams and Consumer Alerts” on IRS.gov.

Please also feel free to contact the Attorney General’s Office at 1-800-244-4636 or at https://attorneygeneral.utah.gov/contact-us.

 

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AG Reyes and AGO Investigators in Partnership with Truckers Against Trafficking Trains Utah Trucking Industry on Fighting Human Trafficking

SALT LAKE CITY October 12, 2016 – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes and the Utah Attorney General’s Office co-hosted a training with the Utah Trucking Association on Tuesday on  best practices in successfully detecting and investigating human trafficking crimes.

“As human trafficking continues to be a problem across the country, I am grateful for the efforts of Truckers Against Trafficking to educate, inform, and train their industry,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. “By taking a victim-centered approach, Truckers Against Trafficking members are able to work cooperatively with law enforcement to bring greater awareness to this important issue and to make sure that victims receive the help they need.”

“Our thanks to the Utah Attorney General’s Office and the Utah Trucking Association for a highly productive coalition build meeting,” said Esther Goetsch, Truckers Against Trafficking Coalition Build Specialist. “Not only were those in the room today much more effectively equipped to recognize, report and respond to human trafficking situations, but the follow-up strategies participants committed themselves to will have an exponential effect as law enforcement officers and trucking industry stakeholders take this message back to their departments and companies.”

The briefing, conducted by a coalition of groups including the Utah Attorney General’s Office (AGO), the Utah Trucking Association, the Utah Trafficking in Person’s Task Force (UTIP), Truckers Against Trafficking, and managers from a number of truck stops in the Salt Lake City area, heard panels on human trafficking, combatting human trafficking through the trucking industry, and from a survivor of sex trafficking. Participants in the panels included Leo Lucey, Chief of Investigations for the Utah AGO, Nate Mutter, Section Chief of Special Prosecutions and Public Corruption at the Utah AGO, Major Brian Redd from the Utah Department of Public Safety, Sgt. Jason Ackerman from Unified Police Department, Utah AGO Justice Division Director Greg Ferbrache, and Beth Jacobs, a Truckers Against Trafficking Field Trainer.

Find linked below a fact sheet on Truckers Against Trafficking. For further information on Truckers Against Trafficking, please contact Esther Goetsch at 612-888-4828 or egoetsch.tat@hotmail.com.

Truckers Against Trafficking Fact Sheet

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US Supreme Court Consolidates Money Transfer Cases Against Delaware

SALT LAKE CITY October 6, 2016 — In a consolidation of two cases, the United States Supreme Court has agreed to take up a case involving a dispute between 23 states and Delaware over the disposition of abandoned monetary instruments (i.e. third-party bank checks, money orders, etc). The 23 states bringing the dispute before the Supreme Court, which includes Utah, claim that Delaware contravened the federal Disposition of Abandoned Money Orders and Traveler’s Checks Act by instructing MoneyGram to send at least $200M in abandoned instruments to Delaware instead of the states in which they were purchased.


Case Background

The dispute between the 21 plaintiff states and Delaware is about which state is entitled to abandoned and unclaimed “official checks” sold by MoneyGram, a money transfer services company that operates in all 50 states and internationally. With Delaware’s acquiescence, guidance and direction, millions of dollars in unclaimed “official checks” have been wrongfully escheated, or turned over, to the State of Delaware. This error was based on the mistaken belief that such abandoned and unclaimed property is supposed to be turned over to the issuing company’s state of incorporation, in this case, Delaware. Federal law and the law in each of the plaintiff states is clear that such abandoned and unclaimed property should be turned over to the state where the property was purchased.

The coalition asked the Supreme Court to declare that the plaintiff states, and not Delaware, are entitled to the hundreds of millions of dollars improperly turned over to Delaware and to all future similar abandoned and unclaimed property. The coalition is also asking the Court to order the appropriate repayment to plaintiff states by Delaware.

“This case is not about MoneyGram. I believe MoneyGram made payments in good faith based on what Delaware instructed it to do. This is a disagreement between states about the proper distribution of abandoned property,” said Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Tens of millions of dollars have been inappropriately turned over to the State of Delaware instead of to states where the property was purchased. We believe, and a recent audit substantiates, that these dollars should be repaid by Delaware to Utah and other states joining this action.”

On Feb. 10, 2015, an independent auditor completed an examination of abandoned “official checks” from MoneyGram in a select group of states and concluded that nearly $200 million was owed to those states.

In agreeing to hear the case, the Supreme Court consolidated it with a similar dispute brought by Pennsylvania and Wisconsin against Delaware. In addition to Utah, the lawsuit is joined by Arkansas, Alabama, Arizona, Colorado, Florida, Idaho, Indiana, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Michigan, Montana, Nebraska, Nevada, North Dakota, Ohio, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Texas and West Virginia.


Utah Attorney General's Office

Maker of Opioid Addiction Treatment Drug Suboxone Accused of Conspiring to Keep Monopoly Profits

SALT LAKE CITY September 23, 2016 – Attorney General Sean Reyes and 36 other attorneys general today filed an antitrust lawsuit against the makers of Suboxone, a prescription drug used to treat opioid addiction, over allegations that the companies engaged in a scheme to block generic competitors and cause purchasers to pay artificially high prices.

Reckitt Benckiser Pharmaceuticals, now known as Indivior, is accused of conspiring with MonoSol Rx to switch Suboxone from a tablet version to a film (that dissolves in the mouth) in order to prevent or delay generic alternatives and maintain monopoly profits.

The companies are accused of violating state and federal antitrust laws.

“This is a crucial drug to combatting opioid addiction and abuse, which has grown to epidemic proportions in our state and nation,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “This lawsuit seeks to restore competition, which is always good for the consumer, especially when it comes to pricing. We feel it is yet another way our office can stand up for the average citizen.”

Suboxone is a brand-name prescription drug used to treat heroin addiction and other opioid addictions by easing addiction cravings. No generic alternative of the tape version is currently available.

According to the lawsuit, when Reckitt introduced Suboxone in 2002 (in tablet form), it had exclusivity protection that lasted for seven years, meaning no generic version could enter the market during that time. Before that period ended, however, Reckitt worked with MonoSol to create a new version of Suboxone – a dissolvable film, similar in size to a breath strip. Over time, Reckitt allegedly converted the market away from the tablet to the film through marketing, price adjustments, and other methods. Ultimately, after the majority of Suboxone prescriptions were written for the film, Reckitt removed the tablet from the U.S. market.

The attorneys general allege that this conduct was illegal “product hopping,” where a company makes modest changes to its product to extend patent protections so other companies can’t enter the market and offer cheaper generic alternatives. According to the suit, the Suboxone film provided no real benefit over the tablet and Reckitt continued to sell the tablets in other countries even after removing them from the U.S. market. Reckitt also allegedly expressed unfounded safety concerns about the tablet version and intentionally delayed FDA approval of generic versions of Suboxone.

As a result, the attorneys general allege that consumers and purchasers have paid artificially high monopoly prices since late 2009 when generic alternatives of Suboxone might otherwise have become available. During that time, annual sales of Suboxone topped $1 billion.

The lawsuit, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern Division of Pennsylvania, accuses the companies of violating the federal Sherman Act and state laws. Counts include conspiracy to monopolize and illegal restraint of trade. In the suit, the attorneys general ask the court to stop the companies from engaging in anticompetitive conduct, to restore competition, and to order appropriate relief for consumers and the states, plus costs and fees.

The attorneys general of the following jurisdictions joined in the lawsuit: Alabama, Alaska, Arkansas, California, Colorado, District of Columbia, Connecticut, Delaware, Florida, Hawaii, Illinois, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Maryland, Massachusetts, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Nebraska, New York, North Carolina, Ohio, Oklahoma, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, and Washington.

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Suboxone Redacted Complaint


AG Reyes Statement on National Suicide Prevention Month and the SafeUT App

SALT LAKE CITY September 14, 2016 – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes released the following statement on National Suicide Prevention Month:

“Over the past two years, the Office of the Attorney General has teamed with legislators, state agencies, mental health clinicians, suicide prevention advocates, the faith community, educators, law enforcement, parents and teens to combat the leading cause of death of Utah children, ages 10-17. We can no longer accept the horrible reality that our kids are not only contemplating leaving this life, but actually succeeding in their determination to end it themselves. The shocking tragedy of suicide permeates our state and our children are finding it to be a solution to loneliness, depression, discrimination, anxiety and the devastating pain caused by bullying, harassment, and abuse.

“As I have visited with youth throughout the state over the past two and a half years individually and in groups, I have asked how many of them feel alone, judged, alienated or without hope. I have asked how many have considered hurting themselves or know someone who has or is thinking of ending their lives. I am deeply unsettled and saddened by the response, especially when I see a majority of hands shoot up in a crowd of 500 students.

“Because of this, and the sobering fact that Utah now leads the nation in the rate of teen suicide, I have made it a priority for my office to lead the School Safety and Crisis Line Commission which recently unveiled the new SafeUT app, which is currently being introduced in schools throughout Utah. Those in crisis can now access live trained professionals at any time the way they are used to communicating, through a smart app on their phones.

“Once individuals reach out anonymously through texts, chats or calls, certified clinicians at the University of Utah Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) respond with support and crisis counseling, including suicide prevention. Whether a crisis is caused by emotional pain, bullying, relationship problems, or mental health challenges, these dedicated professionals have had great success in helping youth throughout our state feel that someone is listening and that they finally have help to navigate their darkest paths.”


The SafeUT app began rolling out to Utah junior high, middle and high schools in early 2016 and will continue to be implemented throughout the state in the 2016-17 school year. In addition to responding to suicide threats, SafeUT is available for those needing help with self-harm, grief and loss, drug and alcohol problems, mental health, abuse, and domestic violence. Further, the app has a safety tip feature that can be used to submit a tip to a school or to law enforcement.

University Neuropsychiatric Institute (UNI) SafeUT Website Here

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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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AG Reyes Statement on National Preparedness Month

SALT LAKE CITY September 13, 2016 – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes released the following statement on National Preparedness Month:

“Utah has a long tradition of self-reliance dating back to our founding. Whether it is planning for natural disasters, establishing personal financial security, or looking after our own health, preparing for the unexpected is a part of our culture. 

“One of the most important things we can do as a public office is to help prepare Utah citizens and their families with the tools to protect themselves, their loved ones, and their resources. The White Collar Crime Offender Registry, which helps Utahns search a database of convicted white-collar criminals before they invest and the SafeUT app, which gives individuals in crisis direct access to trained professionals, are two technologies our office has collaborated with the legislature and other state agencies to introduce over the past year. In addition, ongoing school internet safety training through NetSmartz helps educate students about best practices for online and social media use, for our children, for dating, and for privacy.

“Whatever the circumstance, during National Preparedness Month we urge Utahns to make and update plans for all contingencies, communicate that plan as a family, and prepare for the unexpected.”

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Utah Attorney General's Office

AG Reyes Announces a $100M Settlement with Barclays for Manipulating LIBOR

LIBOR manipulation hurt government entities and not-for-profit organizations
in Utah and across the country

SALT LAKE CITY August 8, 2016 – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes today announced a $100 million settlement with Barclays Bank PLC and Barclays Capital Inc. for fraudulent and anticompetitive conduct involving the manipulation of LIBOR.  This is a benchmark interest rate that affects financial instruments worth trillions of dollars and has a widespread impact on global markets and consumers.

“It is important for a successful free market that financial institutions play by the rules, especially those that help set rates upon which the market relies. Companies that break the rules, cheat or otherwise manipulate positions of trust should be held accountable for their mistakes,” said Attorney General Reyes. “Our congratulations to the entire Anti-Trust Section of the Attorney General’s Office for their team work in seeing this difficult settlement through.”

The investigation, conducted by a multistate working group of 44 State Attorneys General, led by the Attorneys General of New York and Connecticut, revealed that Barclays manipulated LIBOR through two different kinds of fraudulent and anticompetitive conduct.  First, during the financial crisis period of roughly 2007-2009, Barclays’ managers frequently told LIBOR submitters to lower their LIBOR settings in order to avoid the appearance that Barclays was in financial difficulty and needed to pay a higher rate than some of its peers to borrow money.  The LIBOR submitters complied with the instructions and suppressed their LIBOR submissions during that period.  Second, at various times from 2005 to 2007 and continuing at least into 2009, Barclays’ traders asked Barclays’ LIBOR submitters to change their LIBOR settings in order to benefit their trading positions, and the submitters often agreed to the requests.  At times, those requests came from traders outside the bank, and Barclays traders agreed to pass them along to Barclays’ submitters, thus colluding with other banks.  Barclays also believed that other banks’ LIBOR submissions likewise did not reflect their true borrowing rates and that therefore, published LIBOR did not reflect the cost of borrowing funds in the market, as it was supposed to do.

Government entities and not-for-profit organizations in Utah and throughout the U.S., among others, were defrauded of millions of dollars when they entered into swaps and other investment instruments with Barclays without knowing that Barclays and other banks on the U.S. dollar (USD)-LIBOR-setting panel were manipulating LIBOR and colluding with other banks to do so.

Governmental and not-for-profit entities with LIBOR-linked swaps and other investment contracts with Barclays will be notified if they are eligible to receive restitution from a settlement fund of $93.35 million.  The balance of the settlement fund will be used to pay costs and expenses of the investigation and for other uses consistent with state law.

Barclays is the first of several USD-LIBOR-setting panel banks under investigation by the State Attorneys General to resolve the claims against it, and Barclays has cooperated fully from the outset.  The State Attorneys General will benefit from the information and evidence provided by corporations that elect to cooperate with the investigations.  Such cooperation can facilitate civil enforcement efforts, including restitution for victims of the offense.  

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Utah Attorney General's Office

AG Reyes Secures Recovery for Utah Consumers and the State for Cephalon Efforts to Delay Generic Drug Competition For Provigil

SALT LAKE CITY August 4, 2016 – Attorney General Sean D. Reyes today announced a $125 million settlement between Utah, 47 other States and the District of Columbia (the “States”)  and Cephalon and affiliated companies (“Cephalon”) that ends a multistate investigation into anticompetitive conduct by Cephalon to protect the monopoly profits it earned from its landmark wakefulness drug, Provigil.  That conduct delayed generic versions of Provigil from entering the market for several years.

“While we still require court approval of the settlement, we are pleased to announce that Cephalon and the States involved have reached an agreement,” said Attorney General Reyes. “Our congratulations to the entire Anti-Trust Section of the Attorney General’s Office for their team work in seeing this difficult settlement through.”

As the time neared for patent and regulatory barriers to expire and thus open the way for generic competition to Provigil, Cephalon intentionally engaged in an alleged illegal scheme to delay the entry of generic competitors to Provigil that included fraudulently securing an additional patent, filing patent infringement claims against potential generic competitors and  paying  them to delay selling their generic versions of Provigil until at least April 2012, six years later than they would have absent the scheme.  Because of this delayed entry, consumers, states and their governmental entities and others paid hundreds of millions more for Provigil than they would have had generic versions of the drug launched earlier in 2006, as expected.

The States’ settlement includes $35 million for distribution to consumers, including Utah residents, who bought Provigil .  The States hope this $35 million consumer recovery will be supplemented with recovery from a settlement of a private class action against Cephalon that includes Utah, 24 other States and the District of Columbia.

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.

This multistate settlement was facilitated by litigation brought against Cephalon by the Federal Trade Commission.  In May 2015, the FTC settled its suit against Cephalon for injunctive relief and $1.2 billion, which was paid into an escrow account.  The FTC settlement allowed for those escrow funds to be distributed for settlement of certain related cases and government investigations, such as those of the States and private class action cases.

The settlement is subject to court review, including providing consumers with notice and an opportunity to participate in, object to, or opt out of settlement.  The States expect court review will be provided by Judge Mitchell Goldberg of the Eastern District of Pennsylvania, who is currently overseeing other litigation concerning Provigil against Cephalon and others.

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Utah Attorney General's Office

Utah Supreme Court Affirms Murder Conviction of Glenn Howard Griffin

More than 30 years after the murder of Bradley Perry,
Utah’s highest court unanimously confirmed the First Degree Conviction of his killer

SALT LAKE CITY July 28, 2016 – More than 30 years after the murder of Bradley Perry, the Utah Supreme Court affirmed the first degree murder conviction of Glenn Howard Griffin in a unanimous decision written by Justice Constandinos Himonas (State v. Griffin, 2016 UT 33). The ruling comes after a long legal process that included a month-long trial, a 23B hearing, almost 200 hundred pages of briefs and three oral arguments.

“We are pleased with the Utah Supreme Court’s decision to affirm Mr. Griffin’s conviction,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.  “Even after three decades, Bradley Perry and his family deserve justice and closure. This ruling demonstrates that the legal system works and that we will pursue criminals until justice is served. My sincere congratulations to Assistant Solicitor General John Nielsen for his tireless efforts and articulate advocacy on this case, as well as to Laura Dupaix, Tom Brunker, Erin Riley, Chris Ballard, and Tyler Green for their role during the editing and mooting process. Thank you also to Steve Hadfield and Blair Wardle from Box Elder County, who helped during the 23B remand hearing.”

Case Background

Bradley Perry was working the late shift at the Texaco gas station in Perry, Utah near Brigham City on the night of May 25, 1984.  Early in the morning of May 26, he was tied up in the back room, severely beaten, strangled, stabbed multiple times with a screwdriver and what was most likely a knife, and his head crushed by a soda canister.  

Earlier that same morning, two Utah State students stopped for gas at the Perry Texaco and encountered a lean, dark-haired man who offered to pump their gas and get cigarettes for them.  One student paid for the gas with five one-dollar bills. The other student paid for cigarettes with a five dollar bill, and got change from the one-dollar bills that his friend had just given the purported attendant.  One of those bills had “wet” “fresh” “damp” blood on it.

For more than 20 years, police interviewed hundreds of suspects in the hunt for Perry’s killer, but found no solid leads.  A break came when DNA testing technology advanced to the point that the crime lab could test the small amount of blood on the bill, discovering that the blood belonged to Griffin.  Additionally, the State was able to test hairs that had been collected from the scene using mitochondrial DNA (mtDNA) testing.  Griffin could not be excluded as a contributor of those hairs, though about 99.94% of the rest of humanity could be excluded. Further, one of the students drew a picture of the suspect that matched Griffin’s appearance in 1984.

Although the State sought the death penalty, the jury in the case imposed life without parole (LWOP) on Griffin.  On appeal Griffin argued various grounds for reversal, but the court found none of them persuasive.  The DNA evidence was admissible, rendering any other errors harmless at best. 

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