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The jury trial of embattled former Utah Attorney General John Swallow continued Friday with key accuser Marc Sessions Jenson on the witness stand for a third day.
On Thursday, defense lawyer Scott C. Williams pressed Jenson about his assertions that Utah Transit Authority officials, developers and other high-powered politicians had gathered at Pelican Hill, a ritzy Southern California resort, as part an alleged $35 million fraud involving a Draper train station. Jenson testified that Swallow and his immediate predecessor, three-term Attorney General Mark Shurtleff, also were present at the Pelican Hill gathering.
Swallow has pleaded not guilty to 13 felony and misdemeanor charges, stemming from allegations of fostering a pay-to-play climate inside the attorney general's office.
The latest from Day 4 of the trial:
Proceedings ran into an unexplained midafternoon break.
Third District Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills cleared the courtroom, except for the attorneys, court staff and Swallow.
From an adjacent windowed conference room which has no sound a bailiff could be seen talking and answering question. The jury returned and was questioned, then removed again, as the judge had lawyers, a bailiff and a court clerk take seats at different locations. Five jurors were brought back for more questions and then removed again.
Court spokesman Geoff Fattah later said the 40-minute break was related to a "security concern," although he could not elaborate.
Another key witness for the state took the stand Friday: Kirk Torgensen, who was Shurtleff's chief criminal deputy and worked at the Utah attorney general's office for 22 years.
Torgensen told the jury it was "unusual" the way Shurtleff meddled in the 2005 criminal case brought against Jenson. He said Shurtleff shared an email chain that included a proposed plea agreement that appeared to have been negotiated behind the backs of the office prosecutor and included involvement from Shurtleff's so-called "fixer," Tim Lawson.
"I told him it was unethical," Torgensen said.
That first deal didn't fly with the courts, he said, but a second one, which included $4.1 million in restitution, was approved.
Later, Torgensen said, he found out Shurtleff had traveled to Pelican Hill in 2009 and met with Jenson. Shurtleff told him he had met with Jenson to tell him to pay the restitution bill.
"I was upset," Torgensen said. "I told [Shurtleff] it was foolish. I told him it was stupid."
Torgensen said he is not aware of any involvement by Swallow in the Jenson plea agreement. Swallow, at that time, did not work for the attorney general's office.
Deputy Salt Lake County District Attorney Fred Burmester asked Torgensen about the handling of the Marc Sessions Jenson case/plea agreement.
"A lot unusual happened" with the case, Torgensen says.
Torgensen says @MarkShurtleff got involved in the Jenson case: "It was unusual for an AG to get involved as he did."
Torgensen: He started to weigh in on the case and tell us what outcomes he wanted.
Torgensen says he never met Tim Lawson, although he had spoken to him on the phone.
Next witness is Paul Benson. He manages real estate in Park City and Newport Beach, Calif. He's been to Pelican Hill.
Deputy Salt Lake County District Attorney Chou Chou Collins asked Marc Sessions Jenson if he talked to John Sallow after Swallow went to work for the attorney general's office.
Jenson said yes, but Swallow said he couldn't talk to him any more. "There are problems in the office with you."
In a recorded call made from prison in 2011, a key state witness in the John Swallow case told a woman that he regretted never having told his story to correct the lies told about him by others and said everyone who had hurt him was Mormon.
Marc Sessions Jenson lamented that Mormons are fixated on the persecution they suffered when their church was in its infancy, but now have become the ones who persecute others.
"They do it in their gray suits and their white shirts," Jenson told the woman, adding. "They want you to suffer, they want you to pay a price."
The woman, who Jenson said sounded like a longtime family friend named Becky, told him she isn't sure that's so.
The call is one of 300 that Swallow's defense attorney Scott C. Williams said Jenson made while incarcerated.
During re-direct examination by Deputy Salt Lake County District Attorney Chou Chou Collins, Jenson said he never saw then-U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nev., at the Pelican Hill resort in 2009. But he did see Utah House Speaker Greg Hughes, R-Draper, who was a member of the Utah Transit Authority board at the time.
Jenson said he didn't go to the "secret meeting," so he doesn't know if Mark Shurtleff, Tim Lawson and John Swallow were there.
Jenson says he paid between $220,000 and $250,000 to Lawson, Shurtleff's alleged "fixer," over two years.
Asked why he never reported the alleged extortion, Jenson said: "Who do you report the attorney general to?"
Jenson says he told his lawyers what happened and asked them to call Shurtleff. But he never asked them if they reported the extortion.
Jenson said he was "being very generous" to Swallow by paying for Swallow to visit Pelican Hill who did only 15 hours of legal work for him. But he never paid him in cash.