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Attorney General Sean Reyes Delivers Keynote at the National Association of Women Judges 2015 Conference

Speech Highlights Women in Law & Utah’s Efforts to Combat Human Trafficking

SALT LAKE CITY Oct. 9, 2015 – Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes today delivered the keynote address at the National Association of Women Judges 2015 Conference, the 37th annual event held this year in Salt Lake City. Approximately 150 women judges from throughout the country and world representing federal, state, tribal, military and administrative law courts at both the appellate and trial levels were in attendance – along with many local practicing attorneys and law students.

“I want my little girl to grow up knowing she can achieve her dreams in part because you have pushed open many doors for generations of women behind you,” noted Reyes in his remarks. “And I want to thank you for making the fight against human trafficking, which ravages women and children worldwide, one of your organizational priorities.”

Utah has become a leader in combating trafficking both domestically and internationally. In addition to Utah’s universities offering programs focused on the issue, its legal and judiciary community, along with the legislature, non-profits network, corporations and law enforcement are joining together through the Trafficking in Persons Task Force administered through the Utah Attorney General’s Office.  Attorney General Reyes recently hosted 23 international leaders in trafficking discussions, trained 20 Attorneys General from foreign states and countries – and has been invited to speak with ambassadors and heads of state about coordinating efforts on this issue.

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Utah Attorney General

U.S. Supreme Court Grants Utah’s Petition for Writ of Certariori in Utah v. Strieff

Oct. 1, 2015 – The U.S. Supreme Court today granted Utah’s petition for a writ of certiorari in Utah v. Strieff.  In Strieff the Court will address a Fourth Amendment issue important for day-to-day police work: whether evidence seized incident to a lawful arrest on an outstanding warrant should be suppressed because the warrant was discovered during an investigatory stop that was later found to be just shy of the requisite reasonable suspicion.  The U.S. Supreme Court will review the Utah Supreme Court’s January 2015 decision holding that the district court should have suppressed drug evidence found on Edward Joseph Strieff, Jr. after he was lawfully arrested by police on an outstanding warrant.

“Strieff’s arrest on an outstanding warrant was an intervening circumstance that justifies use of the evidence at trial – and we welcome the U.S. Supreme Court’s review of this matter,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.

“The U.S. Supreme Court grants only about 75 of the more than 10,000 petitions for a writ of certiorari it receives each year,” added Utah Solicitor General Tyler Green, a former U.S. Supreme Court clerk. “The Court’s grant in Strieff is a testament to the first-rate work of the attorneys in the Criminal Appeals Division of the Utah Attorney General’s Office who prepared the petition, including Assistant Attorney General Jeffrey S. Gray, who was counsel of record for the petition.”

In December 2006, police received an anonymous tip that drugs were being sold out of a South Salt Lake residence. Detective Doug Fackrell conducted intermittent surveillance of the home over the course of a week. After observing some short-term visitors coming in and out of the residence that was consistent with drug activity, Detective Fackrell stopped Strieff as he left the home to question him about his activities there. During the stop, Detective Fackrell discovered that Strieff had an outstanding warrant and arrested him. In a lawful search incident to arrest, Detective Fackrell found methamphetamine and a drug pipe in Strieff’s pockets.

Strieff moved to suppress the evidence on the grounds that the officer lacked reasonable suspicion of criminal wrongdoing. Although the district court concluded that Detective Fackrell was mistaken in his belief that he had enough evidence to conduct the brief, investigatory stop – it ruled that the ensuing arrest on a warrant justified admission of the drug evidence in a trial for possession methamphetamine and drug paraphernalia. The Utah Court of Appeals agreed, but the Utah Supreme Court reversed.

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Utah Attorney General

AG Reyes speaks at Nutritional Law Symposium

Attorney General Sean Reyes spoke today at the Association of Corporate Counsel Mountain West Chapter’s Ninth Annual Nutrition Law Symposium at Thanksgiving Point Gardens in Lehi, Utah. The symposium featured industry leaders addressing important topics facing the nutrition supplement industry. AG Reyes spoke about ways to interact with regulators and other legal issues in relation to dietary supplements as companies seek to maintain high quality products that are manufactured in accordance with current Good Manufacturing Practices. In addition, the Attorney General discussed his office’s and personal mission to combat human trafficking in relation to many national and international efforts including the California Transparency in Supply Chain Act that ensures companies disclose on their websites and other materials how they address Slavery and Human Trafficking.


Utah Attorney General

AG Reyes Joins in Opposing Changes to Joint Employer Standard

Attorney General Reyes Joins Five Attorney Generals in Opposing Proposed Changes to Joint Employer Standard

Overturning Current Standard Would Harm Businesses & Lead to Fewer Jobs

SALT LAKE CITY August 11, 2015 – Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes today joined Wisconsin Attorney General Brad D. Schimel and the Attorneys General of four other States in a letter urging the National Labor Relations Board not to change its legal standard for determining joint-employer status.  The joint-employer theory implicates commercial relationships between two or more businesses – such as a franchisor and a franchisee – and suggests that in certain circumstances, such a commercial relationship necessarily makes employees of one business also employees of the other.

“The current joint-employer standard has worked well for over 30 years, providing the needed stability for countless commercial agreements in Utah and throughout the country,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes.  “Changing this standard now – particularly without any demonstrated need – threatens to undermine this stability, negatively affecting the flow of commerce and leading to fewer jobs.  The NLRB should leave its existing standard in place and eliminate this unnecessary hurdle to Utah’s continued economic growth.”

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AGO Files Charges in $200 Million Alleged Affinity Fraud Scheme

Utah Attorney General’s Office Files 16 Second Degree Felony Counts in

Father and Son $200 Million Alleged Affinity Fraud Scheme

SALT LAKE CITY –The Utah Attorney General’s Office filed 15 second degree felony counts of Securities Fraud and one second degree felony count of Pattern of Unlawful Activity on a father and son for allegedly engaging in fraud in Fountain Green since 2008. Investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and agents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the case was filed in Utah’s Third District Court.

“We sincerely appreciate the lengthy and difficult investigation by our partners at the FBI, SEC and IRS in this case. We are pleased that they trust our office to prosecute such an important matter that potentially impacts so many alleged victims.  If proven, this case is sadly the perfect warning to the trusting people of Utah,” said AG Reyes, “I personally also want to thank Assistant Attorney General Jake Taylor for his work on this case, prosecutorial expertise and desire to put an end to white collar crime in our communities.”

“This particular case of alleged affinity fraud is devastating if proven to be true. Anytime a neighbor, friend, associate, or even family member makes a pitch for funding, it is critical to research the business or opportunity,” warned Attorney General Reyes. “Our office prosecutes too many fraudsters who have taken funds from innocent people who trust them due to personal relationships. To deter this alleged type of crime, we currently have a team working to launch the nation’s first White Collar Crime Registry in the coming months.”

The Affidavit of Probable Cause filed by the Attorney General’s Office claims that Wendell A. Jacobson and his son Allen R. Jacobson allegedly engaged in fraud through a complex web of over 200 corporate entities.  The Jacobsons raised more than $200 million from over 400 investors – offering the opportunity to invest in limited liability companies (LLCs) that directly or indirectly owned large, multi-unit apartment communities in no fewer than eight states. The Jacobsons are accused of representing to investors that they would buy apartment complexes at significantly discounted prices with low occupancy rates, renovate them, improve management and sell them within five years. The Jacobsons told investors that Wendell Jacobson or one of his wholly-owned entities always owned and had contributed at least 50 percent of the funding for each LLC – and that investor returns would be derived from the apartment complex in which they invested. An investigation by the FBI, SEC and IRS alleges these and other representations to investors to be false.

The multi-agency investigation also revealed the Jacobsons allegedly engaged in numerous other deceptions while trying to obtain investor funds. Wendell Jacobson is accused of telling investors that he never lost money on a property when in fact, Investor LLCs experienced significant net losses.  Also, on numerous occasions, investors were allegedly told that properties they owned were sold at a profit, when they were not. In one example, Wendell and Allen Jacobson allegedly announced the fictitious sale of a property for $15 million and represented to investors a gain of 20.7 percent.

The charges contained in the Criminal Information and Affidavit of Probable Cause are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.

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Legislative Audit Validates Significant Improvement in AG Office Under Reyes Administration

Utah Legislative Audit Validates Significant Improvements to Office of the Utah Attorney General (OAG) in Past 18-Months of Attorney General Sean Reyes Leadership

AG Reyes Thanks Auditors for Helping to Address Inherited Issues in the OAG

SALT LAKE CITY June 23, 2015 – In written responses to the Utah Legislative Performance Audit of the Office of the Utah Attorney General (OAG) and In-depth Budget Review of the Office of the Utah Attorney General, Attorney General Sean D. Reyes expressed his appreciation to the auditors for validating the significant improvement in the Office of the Attorney General over the past 18-months in areas that his office has prioritized and addressed with the Legislature’s support. In addition, he thanked the audit team, “My team appreciates the work and timing of these audits as they address long-standing issues my administration inherited and has been working tirelessly to correct.”

The reports were presented today in the Audit Subcommittee of the Legislative Management Committee by Audit Supervisor Brian Dean and responded to by OAG Chief Civil Deputy Brian Tarbet and OAG Chief Administrative Officer Werner Haidenthaller. AG Reyes and Chief Tarbet both thanked and acknowledged the auditors for the comprehensive efforts to assist the OAG in assessing office structures and budget recommendations that will further benefit the people of Utah through continued progress.

In the Performance Audit response, AG Reyes wrote, “By our inviting this audit, as was the case with other audits our team invited from both in-state and out-of-state entities, we hoped to increase transparency, help establish benchmarks from which we can measure our continued improvement and gain additional perspectives on methods to improve the office. Please communicate my personal thanks to each member of the Office of the Legislative Auditor General team for their professionalism and many long hours dedicated to this process. As you noted in the reports, the OAG recognized before this audit, and continues to acknowledge, that outside review is essential and we are continuing to make day-to-day changes towards many of your recommendations.”

The full Performance Audit of the Office of the Utah Attorney General and In-depth Budget Review of the Office of the Utah Attorney General and the Office of the Attorney General’s responses can be found on the Utah State Legislature website at https://le.utah.gov/audit/15_05rpt.pdf and https://le.utah.gov/audit/15_06rpt.pdf.

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Performance Audit OAG

Budget Audit OAG


AG Reyes and Financial Division Directors Arguello and Sonnenreich

Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes and AG Financial Division Directors to Utah Businesses:

“Proper Government Oversight Can Help Your Business Flourish”    

SALT LAKE CITY (April 18, 2015) — Utah Attorney General Commercial Enforcement Division Director Che Arguello and Markets and Financial Fraud Division Director David Sonnenreich joined Attorney General Sean Reyes today in a panel discussion at the Governor’s Economic Summit 2015. The three answered a series of questions about business practices in Utah and how to navigate Utah law to build flourishing businesses.

According to the three, Utah’s close-knit communities, low crime rate, and independent nature can lead to a misperception that government regulation is not necessary and somehow stifles growth. The presentation consisted of Attorney General Reyes moderating a series of questions to Directors Arguello and Sonnenreich and discussing how regulatory oversight levels the playing field for all businesses and leads to greater success for those who play by the rules. Attorney General Reyes said, “We like to keep government out of the way of good business and as minimally invasive as possible. But when government oversight is done correctly and ethically, investors are protected, legitimate businesses flourish, and fraudsters/criminals are held accountable.”

“Our office is always looking for opportunities to discuss how a legal and fair playing field brought about by well designed and implemented regulations helps good businesses succeed well beyond what they would do without any oversight,” said AG Reyes. “These laws are designed to protect consumers, investors and legitimate businesses. When fraudulent practices are allowed to run unchecked or with minimal impediment, no one wins.”

The three discussed the most common red flags seen in investment/white-collar fraud, why this type of fraud occurs, and why it is so prevalent in Utah communities. They also shared ways legitimate businesses can protect their companies from running afoul of administrative and criminal rules/laws and some of the most common problems businesses encounter with government regulators.

Throughout the presentation, Attorney General Reyes, Directors Arguello and Director Sonnenreich mapped out ways for Utah businesses to comply with the law, allowing the economy to prosper in Utah and described how the Utah Attorney General’s Office works consistently and conscientiously towards a legal environment for economic growth.


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ArguelloChe - web          DavidSonnenreich - web

Che Arguello                                            David Sonnenreich


Utah ICAC Teams with Alabama – Alleged Child Predator Arrested

Utah Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force Works with Alabama Authorities to Successfully Investigate and Arrest Alleged Child Predator

SALT LAKE CITY (April 16, 2015) — The Utah Attorney General’s Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) multi-jurisdictional task force investigates and prosecutes individuals who use the Internet to exploit children. The task force is made up of agents from multiple agencies throughout Utah and often times works cases with out-of-state agencies due to the far reaching access of the Internet.

In late March, localized Utah authorities contacted the Attorney General’s ICAC Task Force for assistance on an Enticement of a Minor. The minor lives in Utah, and the alleged perpetrator in Alabama. Utah ICAC agents and Alabama authorities worked together through discovery and the case was transferred to Alabama ICAC. Shortly after, the two states combined investigative information, leading to the arrest of 29-year-old Brenson Forrest Humphreys on four counts of possession of child pornography and one count each of transmitting obscene material to a minor and electronic solicitation of a child.

“Utah’s ICAC Task Force is known as a leader among peer agencies in other states due to our excellent investigators and prosecutors and the development and implementation of in-house technologies. Because our ICAC tools are so effective, we have shared many of our resources with other agencies throughout the nation and world as we work together to fight online child pornography and predatory behavior,” said Attorney General Reyes. “Thank you to ICAC Section Director Special Agent Jessica Farnsworth and her dedicated team for ensuring that every ICAC case is given the investigative attention necessary to shut down these crimes.”

“All families who have children on the web should be having regular conversations about Internet safety. Many parents have a difficult time imagining their children talking to dangerous strangers, but it happens too regularly,” continued AG Reyes. “Although our ICAC Task Force works around the clock with futuristic technologies to remove threats before perpetrators reach out personally to children, there are constant threats and it is critical that parents stay actively involved.”

Parent Internet Safety resources and information:

Internet Safety Tips for Parents by Utah NetSmartz

Keeping Kids Safer on the Internet by the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children and the Office of Juvenile Justice and Delinquency Prevention

 

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AG Reyes Joins Utah Leaders as Governor Herbert Ceremonially Signs White Collar Crime Registry into Law

SALT LAKE CITY (April 9, 2015) — Attorney General Sean Reyes, HB 378 bill sponsors Representative Mike McKell and Senator Curt Bramble, and Utah business leaders joined Governor Herbert as he ceremonially signed the nation’s first White Collar Crime Registry into law on Thursday, April 9, 2015 at 9:30 a.m. in the Utah State Capitol’s Gold Room. As a longtime advocate for consumer protection and a member of the Standing Committee on Consumer Protection of the National Association of Attorneys General, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes applauded the Utah State Legislature and Governor Herbert for addressing white collar crimes, particularly affinity fraud, in supporting this new registry.

The White Collar Crime Registry will modify the Utah Code of Criminal Procedure to include a registry for persons who commit specified white collar crimes to help empower and inform Utah citizens before investing with those who have illegal pasts and unsavory business practices that have led to second degree felony convictions.

“I have long hoped to further equip citizens to protect themselves from financial fraud,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “This registry will make already public information much more accessible for the average citizen in this digital age.  It will inform anyone performing a simple name search if they are investing with someone who has previously been convicted of financial crimes. People spend all sorts of time reading reviews and searching information before they buy a computer, T.V. or even blender.  Often they will invest their entire nest egg with no due diligence at all.  A simple search on this registry may save you your life savings.  And this tool will hopefully curtail some of the billions of dollars lost in Utah to investment fraud and other financial crimes.”

The White Collar Registry legislation authorizes the Utah Attorney General’s Office to develop, operate, and maintain the Utah White Collar Crime Offender Registry website. The website is currently in the planning stages with a target launch by the end of 2015. It is estimated that approximately 100 names will make the list each year.

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AG Reyes, Rep Francis Gibson and a Prominent Utah Business Leader Accompany SECURE & ICAC on Take Downs


SECUREICAC Logo (Final)

 

SALT LAKE CITY — Majority Whip Francis Gibson of the Utah House of Representatives along with a prominent Utah businessman accompanied Attorney General Sean Reyes and the SECURE Strike Force team on the take-down of a suspected document and identity mill in Salt Lake County, including three known distribution spots. Warrants were served, arrests were made and both the legislator and business leader commented on the fine work done by the AG’s office.

“We have good men and women working hard on the AG’s office to protect Utah citizens,” said Rep. Gibson. “In this particular case they are trying to protect the identity of the citizens of Utah while also making sure we remove many forms of fabricated identification cards.”

Later that evening, The team accompanied the Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force of the Utah AG’s office in executing a warrant and making an arrest for a suspected child pornography possessor and possible contact offender. Attorney General Sean Reyes said, “We are very concerned when someone who we know is in the possession of child pornography also has access to or is visited frequently by young kids in the neighborhood, sometimes related to the suspect and sometimes not. While the legislator and businessman did not participate in any way in the actual arrests, just having them observe from afar gives them a much better perspective on the important work done in the Utah AG’s office as well as the law-enforcement community in general.”

Gibson stated, “This was a good chance for me to see first hand what happens when hours of surveillance and preparation come together to make these arrest.”

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