Ex-attorney general files $60M lawsuit over corruption case

FILE - In this June 18, 2014, file photo, former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff looks on as he attends a legislative committee meeting at the Utah State Capitol, in Salt Lake City. (AP Photo/Rick Bowmer)

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff has sued several dozen officials and agencies involved in a failed corruption case against him.

In a 21-page complaint filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court, Shurtleff accuses county, state and federal authorities of causing him emotional distress, humiliation and depriving his enjoyment of life. He is seeking $60 million in damages.

The suit claimed authorities acted maliciously by using “false, fraudulent and perjured” search warrants to enter Shurtleff’s suburban Salt Lake City home and unlawfully seize his personal property.

Shurtleff also alleged that authorities used excessive force to enter the home when they knew he was not there, including wearing body army and wielding assault rifles. They physically, verbally and emotionally abused members of his family, the lawsuit claims.

Shurtleff’s wife and two children are also listed as plaintiffs.

The suit named more than 40 defendants including Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill, whom Shurtleff claimed led a conspiracy against him in part to advance Gill’s political career.

In a text message, Gill said he had not reviewed the lawsuit but his office would treat it like all other litigation.

“We trust our process,” Gill said.

Shurtleff, a former three-term attorney general, had faced pay-to-play charges after prosecutors said he and his successor John Swallow accepted money and gifts such as beach vacations from businessmen in trouble with regulators.

Charges against Shurtleff were dropped in 2016. Prosecutors at the time pointed to a U.S. Supreme Court ruling overturning the bribery conviction of former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell that they said narrowed the scope of charges in influence-peddling cases.

For his lawsuit to be successful, Shurtleff will have to meet a high legal bar intended to protect authorities acting in good faith, said University of Utah law professor Wayne McCormack.

He’d need to show “obvious misrepresentations or showings of personal malice that were overriding judgment,” McCormack said. “Something along that line would have to overcome the presumption that a warrant is issued validly.”

Shurtleff unsuccessfully sued the state last year for $1.1 million in legal fees to cover his defense.

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