Police investigating reports ex-Attorney General partied with donor who ran afoul of law

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SALT LAKE CITY — Police are investigating allegations that a former Utah attorney general was close to a donor with a history of running afoul of the law, partying with him in New York and pressuring police on his behalf, according to newly unsealed search warrants.

The documents obtained Tuesday by The Associated Press say former Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff also contacted a bank in 2012 about a mortgage adjustment for businessman Sovatphone Ouk, who was barred from telemarketing in 2012 after state regulators investigated numerous complaints about his businesses.

Shurtleff's attorney, Richard Van Wagoner, did not immediately return a message seeking comment on the warrants Tuesday.

Ouk donated $35,000 to Shurtleff's campaigns for attorney general and a short 2009 senatorial run, and also briefly employed Shurtleff's son, the warrants state. The documents detail an alleged close relationship between Shurtleff and Ouk, including a 2012 night at an underground New York City club with young girls, high bills and champagne around the time of Shurtleff's birthday.

That same year, investigators say Shurtleff called 911 during a custody dispute between Ouk and his ex-wife, and pressured police to file criminal charges against her over appliances Ouk said were missing from the home they used to share.

"Mark Shurtleff said something such as, 'Do you know who I am?'" one sergeant told investigators, according to the warrant. Police nevertheless refused to file criminal charges in the case.

Investigators say Shurtleff also sent an email to the president of Zions Bank, asking for his help in modifying Ouk's home loan and calling him "one of the most honest businessmen I have ever known."

The email was sent months after regulators cited Ouks for telephone fraud violations. He would later be removed from his management position and be prohibited from doing any telemarketing in a settlement.

In addition to his regulatory problems, Ouks has also faced domestic violence charges and seen a protective order taken out against him, the warrants say.

A phone message left for Ouks at a number publicly listed under his name was not immediately returned.

Prosecutor Troy Rawlings declined to comment on how the new investigation could affect the ongoing criminal case against Shurtleff.

Shurtleff was charged last year with nine felony counts, including bribery. Along with successor John Swallow, he is accused of accepting money and gifts like beach vacations and the use of luxury boats and homes.

Both men deny any wrongdoing. A hearing is scheduled Thursday in that case.

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