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A former Provo city councilman who once faced nearly a dozen fraud-related felonies filed a lawsuit Wednesday accusing the Utah County attorney's office of "malicious prosecution."
The civil rights lawsuit, filed in 4th District Court, alleges that prosecutors targeted Steve Turley because of a "disagreement with his political positions and business practices, among other reasons."
In 2011, prosecutors charged Turley with 10 felonies, accusing him of taking money and property from several people in order to illegally gain more property between August 2006 and September 2009.
A judge in 2014 tossed all of the charges except for one communications fraud count finding that prosecutors had not presented evidence to show probable cause that Turley committed any crime. The remaining charge was dismissed the following year at the request of prosecutors.
After the final charge were dismissed, Turley spoke out, saying he never did anything wrong or criminal.
"I went about regular business," he said during a 2015 news conference. "And in the course of business, there is disagreements."
Now Turley alleges in court papers that the Utah County attorney's office and County Attorney Jeff Buhman abused the prosecutorial process to remove him from his City Council position and "vindicate his political foes." He further alleges that prosecutors withheld evidence from him as he tried to clear himself of criminal wrongdoing.
"As a result of defendants' abuse of process, Mr. Turley has incurred significant damages," wrote Turley's attorney Brett Tolman, "including having to fund a four-year legal battle to defeat the bogus criminal charges, loss of reputation, business dealings and his political career."
Buhman said Friday morning that he hasn't seen the filing, but added that his office does not comment on pending litigation.
Also named in the lawsuit is Utah County attorney's office investigator Richard Hales, who is accused of recording a conversation between Turley and his lawyer that was supposed to be private and attorney-client privileged. That conversation took place, Tolman has said, inside the county attorney's office when prosecutors were out of the room but Tolman and Turley were not told that their conversation was being recorded by a closed-circuit television.
Investigators and prosecutors viewed this privileged conversation, Tolman said, which violated Utah law and Turley's Sixth Amendment rights. A judge in 2013 found that these actions were a violation of Turley's constitutional rights, but denied a motion seeking to disqualify the Utah County attorney's office from the case.
Turley seeks an unspecified amount of damages, according to the lawsuit. No court dates had been set as of Friday.