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The dispute between state Rep. Justin Miller and his former boss, Salt Lake County Mayor Ben McAdams, is now in the hands of the FBI and federal prosecutors, an indication the criminal investigation is expanding beyond accusations of theft.

Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings confirmed Friday that in early June, investigators told him they would screen any potential charges with the U.S. attorney's office, sidelining Rawlings on a case he's overseen for months. He declined to say why.

Brett Tolman, a former U.S. attorney for Utah who is not involved in the case, said there are likely two reasons this case won't be handled on the state level.

"There really is a concern that this might be broader in scope," he said. "And, second, the feds are accustomed to doing public corruption cases."

Tolman said it would be cleaner for federal prosecutors to handle cases that may end up involving prominent public officials.

McAdams, a Democrat, accuses Miller, his former associate deputy mayor and campaign manager, of stealing more than $20,000 in campaign funds. The mayor fired Miller from his county job Oct. 16. Nearly two weeks later, McAdams called then-Salt Lake City Police Chief Chris Burbank to initiate a criminal probe.

The following week, voters in the Millcreek area elected Miller, also a Democrat, to the Utah House.

Since his firing, Miller has informed the county he intends to sue for wrongful termination, claiming he was pushed out for questioning contracts given to Exoro, a public-relations/lobby firm that remains deeply involved in McAdams' political operation.

"We are hopeful the investigation involves significantly more than talking about whether Justin is involved in financial improprieties," said Steven Shapiro, Miller's attorney.

Miller has said he may have made some accounting errors but denies any criminal wrongdoing. McAdams has released a damaging recording of an October meeting in which he and Donald Dunn, a key campaign adviser, confronted Miller about the missing funds and created a plan for him to pay it back.

While first the Salt Lake City police and, now, the FBI have investigated this allegation, it appears they also are looking into Miller's claims against the county.

A series of investigative subpoenas has gone out, some to Salt Lake County.

"The mayor's office is fully aware of the FBI's involvement in this ongoing criminal investigation," said Alyson Heyrend, McAdams' spokeswoman. "We are precluded from further comment at this time."

At this stage, no investigator has sought to interview Miller.

"We look forward to cooperating in any investigation when contacted to do so," Shapiro said.

Not waiting for the lengthy investigation to end, Utah House Democrats on June 15 called on Miller to resign his legislative seat, saying the accusations have rendered him ineffective.

House Minority Leader Brian King, D-Salt Lake City, said he looked at some of Miller's documents and found them unconvincing.

At the time, Miller said he would consider the request of his fellow House Democrats, but he now says he has no intention of giving up his seat.