SALT LAKE CITY (AP) - A former top deputy Utah attorney general was arrested Tuesday to make sure he’ll testify against his ex-boss next month despite a family trip to Guatemala.
Arresting onetime lawman Kirk Torgensen shows prosecutors are serious about court orders, Salt Lake County District Attorney Sim Gill said.
“We’re preparing for trial, and we’re taking it seriously,” Gill said, though he declined to say exactly what led to his office issuing the warrant. Torgensen is not facing charges and was released after a court hearing with a judge’s orders to appear for testimony, the Salt Lake Tribune reports.
The surprise arrest on a $100,000 warrant is the latest twist in a pay-to-play case that ensnared two former Utah attorneys general. Torgensen’s lawyer called the arrest absurd.
Torgensen is a whistleblower with a minor role in the case against former Utah Attorney General John Swallow who wants to testify, but the trial conflicts with a nonrefundable trip he booked with his son before the dates were scheduled, attorney Brett Tolman said.
Torgensen had refused to sign a subpoena, but he was trying to arrange a video testimony or to be flown back for his court appearance, Tolman said. Prosecutors said he had not been so cooperative.
Torgensen has moved to Florida and was jailed while in Utah for a funeral, his lawyer said.
“To arrest a former longstanding prosecutor who gave a lot to this state when he’s here for his mother’s funeral, I think it makes you sit back and say, ‘What’s going on over there?’ ” Tolman said.
Torgersen’s phone was searched, but he was never charged in the case that ensnared both Swallow and his long-serving predecessor, Mark Shurtleff.
They were accused of accepting money and gifts like beach vacations from businessmen in trouble with regulators.
The case against Shurtleff was dismissed this summer, but Swallow is set for trial on Feb. 7. He has denied any wrongdoing.
Swallow is charged with 13 counts, including racketeering and receiving or soliciting bribes.
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