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ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN REYES STATEMENT ON NATIONAL SLAVERY AND HUMAN TRAFFICKING PREVENTION
SALT LAKE CITY—Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following statement for National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month. Last night, the Utah Attorney General's Office in partnership with Refugee & Immigrant Center-Asian Association of Utah, and Engage Now Africa hosted Dr. Kevin Bales, professor, author, social scientist, and human rights activist as the Ambassador Price & Marcia Price World Affairs Lecture Series guest in January.
Following AG Reyes statement you will find a list of individuals who are available for comment on this topic for interested media throughout the month. The individuals are organized according to the area upon which they are most qualified to comment.
"We will continue the fight to eradicate the tragedy of human trafficking in Utah and beyond our borders,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “As we recognize National Slavery and Human Trafficking Prevention Month throughout January, Utah is poised to continue as a leader nationally and globally against the scourge of human trafficking. With a grant from the federal government, the Utah Trafficking In Persons (UTIP) Task Force focuses on a victim-centered and trauma-informed approach to ending human trafficking in our state. UTIP’s interdisciplinary, multi-agency approach has made Utah a leader against human trafficking, taking down predators in their tracks and liberating victims.
“It is critical every American understands that human trafficking can be found in any community — rural or urban, wealthy or modest. It does not discriminate by wealth or station in its victimization of people of all backgrounds. We must protect our youth and other vulnerable citizens.
“We thank the citizens of Utah for raising their voices to educate the world about this epidemic. We thank legislators and other public officials, law enforcement leaders, victim advocates, physicians, businesses, media partners, and so many others for allocating scarce resources to the fight against modern slavery.
“We also recognize Utah organizations such as Fahodie & Friends, Backyard Broadcast and the Elizabeth Smart Foundation to Operation Underground Railroad and Fight the New Drug along with sundry other groups and individuals who educate the public, liberate victims and heal survivors of these atrocities.
“Utah thanks international partners like Polaris Project, the Trafficking in America Taskforce, Engage Now Africa, Airline Ambassadors, Truckers Against Trafficking, Halleh Seddighzadeh, PhD, of ARMAN, and so many others for their dedication to combatting trafficking.
“The eradication of human trafficking should be a priority for all who value virtue and freedom. As a humanitarian issue, ending human trafficking transcends political and ideological differences. It is critical for Utah and all states to work even more closely with law enforcement, various first responders, and the communities who come in contact with human trafficking victims to combat modern-day slavery.
“I am very grateful for the hard and often unsung work by law enforcement investigators, both in the AGO and from our sister agencies, working hand-in-hand to surveil and bring down traffickers, as well as for the lawyers and support staff who prosecute the perpetrators. We will not rest until human trafficking is ended.”
The following individuals are available for comment for stories on modern slavery and human trafficking during National Slavery and Human Trafficking Month.
Russell Smith - Utah Attorney General's Office
SECURE Section Director
Nate Mutter - Utah Attorney General's Office
Dr. Kathy Franchek - University of Utah School of Medicine
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Dr. Corey Rood - University of Utah/Center for Safe & Healthy Families, Primary Children's Hospital
Assistant Professor of Pediatrics
Elizabeth Hendrix - Refugee & Immigrant Center
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UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES REJECTS JAPANESE INTERNMENT COMMENTARY AS DARK MISTAKE
SALT LAKE CITY—Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, who is of mixed-Japanese descent, today expressed concern about comments reported in national media last week that justify the creation of a national Muslim registry, citing the Japanese internment during World War II as legal precedent. An Aspen-Rodel Fellow, Reyes learned of the comments upon return from the three-day Aspen Institute seminar on public policy and civility.
“When President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act in 1988, apologizing for the Japanese internment during World War II, it was a significant acknowledgment of the humiliation, degradation, and pain suffered by thousands in the Japanese-American community, including some of my own friends and family. These were loyal American citizens stripped of their rights, freedom, and hard-earned property based solely on heritage.
“Reference to the Japanese internment as a legal prerogative for any policy is offensive and counter to the highest ideals to which we aspire as a nation. I join in President Reagan’s past recognition of the injustice of the Japanese internment, as well as in President-elect Donald Trump's rejection of the formulation of a registry or system that tracks individuals based on their religion.
“Like many Americans, I too am gravely concerned about national security and the threat of radical groups that would do us harm. And, collectively, we will continue to grapple with difficult decisions balancing the safety of our country and the liberties to which we are all entitled. The justification for whatever policies we adopt cannot be rooted in the Japanese internment or any of the other darkest mistakes in our nation's history, from slavery and segregation to sterilization and extermination. These are not the ideals of a free people.”
UTAH FRATERNAL ORDER OF POLICE ENDORSES UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN REYES IN 2016 GENERAL ELECTION
Utah AG Reyes endorsed by Utah police association for increased outreach and improved relations between local law enforcement and the communities they serve and protect.
SALT LAKE CITY—Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced today that the Utah Fraternal Order of Police, an organization representing over 2,700 police officers statewide, has endorsed him in the 2016 general election.
As part of the endorsement letter, Dave Edwards, vice chairman of the Utah Fraternal Order of Police, acknowledged Attorney General Reyes for his work to diligently familiarize himself and the Attorney General’s office with Utah police training and the role Utah police serve as a unique group of public servants. “As you know, this is a difficult time for law enforcement given the challenges with public perception that continue to plague our profession in the wake of some of the tragedies that have developed nationwide,” Edwards noted in the letter.
Since Reyes took leadership, the Utah Attorney General’s office has become a leader in community outreach and de-escalation training for all agencies in the state, making all Utah AG office and agency personnel more sensitive and better equipped to deal with people of all languages, religions and cultures, along with those from the mental health, minority communities, homeless and the
“I pray every night for the agents of my office to come home safely to their families. But too many men and women in uniform across the country never make it home,” said Reyes. “I am a proud supporter of these dedicated servants who put themselves in harm’s way each day to protect us. They deserve our respect and appreciation. I am honored and proud that the Utah Fraternal Order of Police has endorsed me in the Attorney General’s race.”
UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN REYES STATEMENT ON DEMOCRAT PARTY OPPONENT’S DECISION TO DROP OUT OF 2016 ATTORNEY GENERAL RACE
SALT LAKE CITY—Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes released the following statement on Democrat Party opponent Jon Harper’s decision to drop out of the Utah Attorney General race:
“I am sorry to hear my opponent is withdrawing from the race for medical reasons. I admire anyone who is willing to put themselves out before the public in a campaign. Campaigns are demanding, grueling processes that can take a toll on one’s health in many ways. I hope he has a speedy recovery and wish him and his family the best.”
UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN REYES TO ADDRESS GLOBAL, PRIVATE-PUBLIC SECTOR LEADERS AT 2016 CONCORDIA SUMMIT
Utah Attorney General to lead roundtable on combatting white collar crime and speak on fighting human trafficking globally
SALT LAKE CITY—Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes will lead a white-collar crime round table as well as participate in a strategic dialogue on overcoming human labor trafficking at the prestigious 6th annual Concordia Summit on September 19th at the Grand Hyatt New York.
The two-day Concordia Summit was established to address global challenges through the lens of public-private partnerships. Topics will include the global migration and refugee crisis, transnational responses to cyber security and international terrorism, global women’s empowerment, collaboration in cancer research, energy in the Americas, a humane and secure global food supply, and labor and human trafficking among other
“Those who know me and my priorities as Utah’s attorney general, understand my passion and commitment to eradicate human trafficking as well as prevent white-collar crime, which destroys so many lives nationwide,” explained Utah Attorney General Reyes. “The Concordia Summit is a premier, private-public policy partnership opportunity. I am honored to participate and share my perspective alongside so many of the world’s most respected leaders.”
Participants in this year's Concordia Summit include Hon. Madeleine Albright, former U.S. Secretary of State; José María Aznar López, former President of Spain; Irina Bokova, director general, UNESCO; Tom Brokaw, special correspondent, NBC News; and Andrew Liveris, president, chairman, and chief executive officer, The Dow Chemical Company to name just a few.
Since its inception in 2011, the Concordia Summit has brought together over 3,000 participants, including 40 current and former heads of state, 450 international and Fortune 500 C-suite executives, prominent nonprofit leaders, and senior Congressional and Administration officials. Press can register for credentials at https://www.concordia.net/press-registration-2016; follow the Summit on social media using #Concordia16.
Concordia is a 501(c)(3) organization that enables public-private partnerships to create a more prosperous and sustainable future. As equal parts convener, campaigner, and idea incubator, Concordia is creating a new model for how a nonpartisan, nonprofit can have a global impact. Learn more at http://www.concordia.net.
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AFTER MULTI-AGENCY INVESTIGATION, OFFICE OF THE ATTORNEY GENERAL FILES CHARGES IN HUMAN TRAFFICKING CASE
SALT LAKE CITY – The Office of the Attorney General supported an investigation into Todd Jeremy Rettenberger (DOB 7/1/1978) led by the Bountiful City Police Department (BCPD). Today, the OAG, in cooperation with the Davis County District Attorney's Office, filed multiple charges against Mr. Rettenberger. Chief Leo Lucey, Director of the Attorney General's Investigation Division gave the following statement:
"Our investigators work with law enforcement agencies throughout the state on a daily basis on cases, task forces and as participants of the AG SECURE Strike Force to ensure safety throughout Utah. At the request of the Bountiful PD, we were invited to support the agency in their fine work directed by Chief Tom Ross. The alleged crimes in the case against Mr. Rettenberger are shocking and disturbing and have now been turned over to AG prosecutors in cooperation with the Davis County District Attorney’s Office,” said Chief Lucey. “We sincerely appreciate working with these very well respected partners and will continue to offer our support in saving victims and pursuing justice."
To access the Probable Cause statement, click here. The OAG is not conducting interviews on this matter at this time.
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UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES COMMEMORATES MARTIN LUTHER KING, JR. AS A HISTORIC ADVOCATE FOR CIVIL RIGHTS AND FREEDOM
Painting by Reyes’ father won Coretta Scott King-sponsored national art contest in memory of Martin Luther King, Jr.
SALT LAKE CITY – Utah Attorney General Sean D. Reyes today issued the following statement commemorating the Martin Luther King, Jr. federal holiday, noting Coretta Scott King’s relationship to the Reyes family:
“We recognize Martin Luther King, Jr. today as a historic advocate for civil rights. In the United States, we believe all men are created equal and our rights and freedoms come from God, not government or rulers. Reverend King fought so those freedoms could be enjoyed equally by every man, woman and child in America.
“My father Buddy Reyes immigrated to the United States from the Philippines to flee political persecution in 1967. What transpired in the years to follow was truly an example of the American Dream. Living in humble circumstances while painting on the streets of Los Angeles to survive, my father was encouraged to enter a nationwide art contest in 1968 sponsored by Coretta Scott King in commemoration of her late husband.
“Using art supplies donated by a blind neighbor and an old cabinet door to paint upon, my father won that nationwide art contest. Coretta Scott King and her lawyers assisted my father in expediting his legal status from resident to that of a full U.S. Citizen and the winnings from the contest helped establish the Reyes family’s true start in the United States. My father went on to many more successes over the next fifty years thanks to Mrs. King.
“Martin Luther King, Jr. forever changed a nation — and his legacy forever changed my family’s history. For that, my family can never be grateful enough.”
Buddy Reyes’ national contest-winning poster is attached for reference. For more information and related video footage please visit: www.youtube.com/watch?v=pLOB8pZxpg8
UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE & ASIAN ASSOCIATION OF UTAH AWARDED OVER $1.2 MILLION TO FIGHT HUMAN TRAFFICKING AND SUPPORT VICTIMS
Monies will enhance the Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force
SALT LAKE CITY—The Utah Attorney General’s Office and the Asian Association of Utah today announced they are one of sixteen partnerships selected by the U.S. Department of Justice (DOJ) in 2015 for anti-trafficking task force grant awards to support law enforcement efforts and victims services over the next three years. The Utah Attorney General’s Office was selected to receive $899,512 as the law enforcement applicant and the Asian Association of Utah will receive $400,000 as the victim’s service provider. The combined funding will support the Utah Trafficking in Persons (UTIP) Task Force.
“Over the past two years my eyes have been opened to the atrocities of human trafficking – including right here in Utah. I am honored to work with so many experts and dedicated team members from all the agencies comprising the Utah Trafficking in Persons Task Force, including those from the Attorney General’s Office and our SECURE Strike Force who are individually and collectively dedicated to eradicating human trafficking in Utah,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “The DOJ grant will have tremendous impact on not only investigations and prosecutions, but also victim support in Utah. The Asian Association of Utah is a proven community leader in providing services for many of our most vulnerable and we look forward to partnering with them to help victims of trafficking reclaim their lives.”
In 2014, the Utah Attorney General’s SECURE Strike Force was involved in over 25 human trafficking related investigations, serving over 70 victims. The DOJ grant funding will be used to support and enhance existing human trafficking efforts including: 1) implementing victim-centered, collaborative and sustainable approaches to identifying victims of sex and labor trafficking through training and outreach, 2) Proactively investigating trafficking leads through dedicated law enforcement staff, 3) Building strong cases for prosecution of traffickers through a specialized prosecutor and 4) providing individualized, comprehensive victims services for victims of all types of trafficking throughout Utah. Additionally, the Task Force will gather statewide data and share information in order to ensure Utah’s human trafficking response is data driven and effective.
“In most investigations and subsequent prosecutions that have roots in human trafficking, we find victims in fear of not only their traffickers, but also of what exists outside of the life that they have known,” said Tammie Atkin, Chair and Board Member of UTIP and the Attorney General’s Victim Witness Coordinator. “Solutions are complex and often take years of victim support for individuals to finally find personal freedom. Our office understands how important it is to have partners who know how to build trust and establish patterns of self-sufficiency and success.”
Elizabeth Hendrix, Program Director at the Asian Association of Utah added, “We are proud to partner with the Attorney General’s Office to serve all victims of sex or labor trafficking, regardless of age, gender, or immigration status. Victims often experience extensive trauma and have complex needs. We have established a comprehensive set of victims services — through our programs and great community partners — to ensure each individual’s needs are met as they move toward recovery and healing.”
The UTIP Task Force is led by an Executive Board, co-chaired by representatives from the Utah Attorney General’s Office and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, District of Utah. Comprised of over 70 essential stakeholders from multiple sectors and geographic areas, UTIP has broad reach in both participation and impact. Members include the Federal Bureau of Investigation, U.S. Department of State, U.S. Department of Labor, U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development, U.S. Department of Homeland Security, Utah Department of Public Safety, multiple law enforcement agencies, first responders, victim advocates, NGO’s, social service agencies, Utah Department of Child and Family Services, Juvenile Justice, Utah Occupational and Professional Licensing, Utah legal services, Backyard Broadcast, Volunteers of America (Utah), Statewide Information & Analysis Center and many others.
To support statewide efforts to combat human trafficking, UTIP will use a micro-grant structure to provide small awards to local law enforcement-victim service provider partnerships. This will foster collaborative approaches to human trafficking response throughout the state, and allow highly-impacted areas to develop local capacity to address trafficking.
Also within the scope of the grant, UTIP will gather statewide data and share information to ensure Utah’s human trafficking response is data-driven and effective. In order to facilitate data-informed decision making, researchers from the University of Utah will monitor progress toward project goals and provide feedback to the Task Force. Using information about law enforcement indicators (such as investigation, prosecution, and conviction), service indicators (such as number of victims receiving treatment services), and task force indicators (such as number of partners and referrals), researchers will support the Task Force in implementing policies and procedures that increase responsiveness to the issue of human trafficking.
UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE & OTHER STATES SUCCESSFULLY OBTAIN STAY OF WATERS OF THE UNITED STATES RULE
Sixth Circuit Court Blocks EPA Water Rule Nationwide
SALT LAKE CITY—Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes today issued a statement after the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit granted a motion that blocks the Environmental Protection Agency and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers from enforcing a new rule that unlawfully expands the federal government’s regulatory reach over farms, land and small streams. In conjunction with other states, the Utah Office of the Attorney General successfully briefed the Sixth Circuit challenging this rule – which redefines the scope of waters protected under the Clean Water Act, oversteps states' rights and harms businesses and landowners. In granting the stay, the Court described the rule as ‘facially suspect.’
“In joint effort with other states, our office successfully challenged the EPA water rule – which is not only unlawful but would subject Utah homeowners and others to a costly new set of complicated, burdensome federal regulations,” stated Attorney General Reyes.
Utah's related case is currently being litigated in three different courts: the Sixth Circuit, which issued the order today; the Eleventh Circuit; and the Judicial Panel on Multidistrict Litigation (JPMDL), which sits in New York for the purposes of this case.
The Eleventh Circuit is hearing Utah’s appeal of our original case brought with other states in the Western District of Georgia. In that case, the district court denied the preliminary injunction motion because there is a legal question whether district courts or appellate courts have original jurisdiction over such matters. The district court denied the motion for lack of jurisdiction, but was otherwise sympathetic.
The JPMDL is deciding whether all the cases nationwide should be consolidated and if so - where. It will place it in the Sixth Circuit if the jurisdictional question it is already considering has courts of appeal with original jurisdiction over the cases. If it decides that a district court should hear it, the state of Utah has asked it either be placed in North Dakota (where a district court entered an injunction like the one in the Sixth Circuit) or in the Western District of Georgia (given Utah has completely briefed the consideration of the preliminary injunction in its case there).
ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES JOINS FIVE ATTORNEY GENERALS IN OPPOSING PROPOSED CHANGES TO JOINT EMPLOYER STANDARD
Overturning Current Standard Would Harm Businesses & Lead to Fewer Jobs
SALT LAKE CITY—Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes today joined Wisconsin Attorney General Brad D. Schimel and the Attorneys General of four other States in a letter urging the National Labor Relations Board not to change its legal standard for determining joint-employer status. The joint-employer theory implicates commercial relationships between two or more businesses – such as a franchisor and a franchisee – and suggests that in certain circumstances, such a commercial relationship necessarily makes employees of one business also employees of the other.
"The current joint-employer standard has worked well for over 30 years, providing the needed stability for countless commercial agreements in Utah and throughout the country,” said Attorney General Sean Reyes. “Changing this standard now – particularly without any demonstrated need – threatens to undermine this stability, negatively affecting the flow of commerce and leading to fewer jobs. The NLRB should leave its existing standard in place and eliminate this unnecessary hurdle to Utah's continued economic growth."
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ATTORNEY GENERAL REYES ISSUES STATEMENT FOLLOWING BRIEFINGS WITH COLORADO & NEW MEXICO ATTORNEYS GENERAL ON GOLD KING MINE SPILL
SALT LAKE CITY—Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes today joined Colorado Attorney General Cynthia H. Coffman and New Mexico Attorney General Hector Balderas in Durango, Colo., to share information and discuss the immediate and possible long term impacts of the Environmental Protection Agency’s (EPA) Gold King Mine spill.
“One of the reasons I am in Durango today is to discuss with my colleagues from Colorado and New Mexico legal options to ensure the EPA lives up to its promise to be fully accountable and transparent – and to make our citizens and environment whole,” said Utah Attorney General Reyes. “It is premature to say what legal action will be taken until we better understand the damage that has been and is occurring and also learn what the EPA is willing to compensate. In that process, we will ensure the EPA, and any other potentially liable entities, are held legally responsible not just for short term effects but for damage that may not be known or understood for years to come.”
Upon notice of the disaster, a team of lawyers from the Office of the Utah Attorney General lent support to the vitally important actions of its clients including the Utah Departments of Environmental Quality and Public Safety – and their Divisions of Water Quality and Emergency Management. These agencies began immediate monitoring of impacts to Utah's waters and evaluating short and long-term health, environmental and recreational impacts to Utah citizens and tribal nations along the San Juan River.
Currently, citizens can make compensation claims directly to the EPA and the Utah Attorney General’s Office will advocate for timely and fair review of such claims.
“I am here today to ensure Utah has a voice in this process - because Utah citizens need an advocate,” continued General Reyes. “While I cannot represent citizens directly as a private lawyer, I can work to make sure there is a proper system to assess harms and claims.”
State, county and local officials are collaborating to protect and assist Utah citizens in this emergency while attempting to get answers from the EPA and hold the agency fully accountable for its actions.
“Utah has welcomed collaboration with neighboring states to share expertise, resources, information and possibly costs moving forward. Utah, along with its sister states, is evaluating all legal options and will do everything within its power to ensure our citizens are protected and that our states are made whole for any damages caused,” concluded General Reyes. “And we are supportive of an independent review of the circumstances leading to the mass release in addition to any internal review by the EPA.”
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REYES AND 46 ATTORNEYS GENERAL URGE CONGRESS TO PRESERVE STATE AUTHORITY OVER DATA BREACH AND DATA SECURITY LAWS
SALT LAKE CITY—Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes joined 46 other attorneys general urging Congress to maintain states’ authority to enforce data breach and data security laws - and preserve their ability to enact laws to address future data security risks. Citing recent efforts in Congress to pass a national law on data breach notification and data security, Attorney General Reyes and the other attorneys general sent a letter to Congress cautioning against federal preemption of state data breach and security law. They argued that any federal law must not diminish the important role states already play protecting consumers in this area.
In the letter, Reyes and the other attorneys general point out a number of concerns with federal preemption of state data breach and security laws, including:
- Data breaches and identity theft continue to cause significant harm to consumers. Since 2005, nearly 5,000 data breaches have compromised more than 815 million records containing sensitive information about consumers – primarily financial account information, Social Security numbers or medical information. Full-blown identity theft involving the use of a Social Security number can cost a consumer $5,100 on average.
- States play an important role responding to data breaches and identity theft. The states have been at the frontlines in helping consumers deal with the repercussions of a data breach, providing important assistance to consumers who have been impacted by data breaches or who suffer identity theft or fraud as a result, and investigating the causes of data breaches to determine whether the data collector experiencing the breach had reasonable data security in place.
- Data security vulnerabilities are too common. States frequently encounter circumstances where data breach incidents result from the failure by data collectors to reasonably protect the sensitive data entrusted to them by consumers, putting consumers’ personal information at unnecessary risk. Many of these breaches could have been prevented if the data collector had taken reasonable steps to secure consumers’ data.
The attorneys general urged Congress to preserve existing protections under state law, ensure that states can continue to enforce breach notification requirements under their own state laws and enact new laws to respond to new data security threats, and to not hinder states that are helping their residents by preempting state data breach and security laws.
The letter was co-sponsored by Arkansas, Connecticut, Illinois, Indiana, Maryland, Massachusetts and Nebraska, was also joined by the following states and territories: Alabama, Alaska, Arizona, California, Delaware, District of Columbia, Florida, Georgia, Hawaii, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Louisiana, Maine, Michigan, Minnesota, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nevada, New Hampshire, New Jersey, New Mexico, New York, North Carolina, North Dakota, Northern Mariana Islands, Ohio, Oregon, Pennsylvania, Rhode Island, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Utah, Vermont, Virginia, Washington, and West Virginia.
In February 2015, Attorney General Reyes launched a new ID Theft Central (idtheft.utah.gov) website for public use to report, repair and find resources to combat identity theft. On the website Utah consumers can conveniently report identity theft as well as enroll their children in a free Child Identity Protection program. They can also learn methods to protect themselves against identity theft, learn about Utah identity theft laws, become informed about the latest scams, and locate on a map where identity theft happens in Utah.
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UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL’S OFFICE FILES 16 SECOND DEGREE FELONY COUNTS IN FATHER & SON $200 MILLION ALLEGED AFFINITY FRAUD SCHEME
SALT LAKE CITY—The Utah Attorney General's Office filed 15 second degree felony counts of Securities Fraud and one second degree felony count of Pattern of Unlawful Activity on a father and son for allegedly engaging in fraud in Fountain Green since 2008. Investigated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI), Securities & Exchange Commission (SEC) and agents with the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), the case was filed in Utah’s Third District Court.
“We sincerely appreciate the lengthy and difficult investigation by our partners at the FBI, SEC and IRS in this case. We are pleased that they trust our office to prosecute such an important matter that potentially impacts so many alleged victims. If proven, this case is sadly the perfect warning to the trusting people of Utah,” said AG Reyes, “I personally also want to thank Assistant Attorney General Jake Taylor for his work on this case, prosecutorial expertise and desire to put an end to white collar crime in our communities.”
“This particular case of alleged affinity fraud is devastating if proven to be true. Anytime a neighbor, friend, associate, or even family member makes a pitch for funding, it is critical to research the business or opportunity,” warned Attorney General Reyes. “Our office prosecutes too many fraudsters who have taken funds from innocent people who trust them due to personal relationships. To deter this alleged type of crime, we currently have a team working to launch the nation’s first White Collar Crime Registry in the coming months.”
The Affidavit of Probable Cause filed by the Attorney General’s Office claims that Wendell A. Jacobson and his son Allen R. Jacobson allegedly engaged in fraud through a complex web of over 200 corporate entities. The Jacobsons raised more than $200 million from over 400 investors – offering the opportunity to invest in limited liability companies (LLCs) that directly or indirectly owned large, multi-unit apartment communities in no fewer than eight states. The Jacobsons are accused of representing to investors that they would buy apartment complexes at significantly discounted prices with low occupancy rates, renovate them, improve management and sell them within five years. The Jacobsons told investors that Wendell Jacobson or one of his wholly-owned entities always owned and had contributed at least 50 percent of the funding for each LLC – and that investor returns would be derived from the apartment complex in which they invested. An investigation by the FBI, SEC and IRS alleges these and other representations to investors to be false.
The multi-agency investigation also revealed the Jacobsons allegedly engaged in numerous other deceptions while trying to obtain investor funds. Wendell Jacobson is accused of telling investors that he never lost money on a property when in fact, Investor LLCs experienced significant net losses. Also, on numerous occasions, investors were allegedly told that properties they owned were sold at a profit, when they were not. In one example, Wendell and Allen Jacobson allegedly announced the fictitious sale of a property for $15 million and represented to investors a gain of 20.7 percent.
The charges contained in the Criminal Information and Affidavit of Probable Cause are merely allegations, and the defendants are presumed innocent unless and until proven guilty. All factual recitations are derived from documents filed in court and statements made on the record in court.
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SALT LAKE CITY—The Utah Attorney General's Office won as a government agency an unprecedented four Best of State medals and the prestigious category-wide BOSS Award at the annual Utah Best of State Award Ceremony. Considering the same office was suffering from deep criticism and allegations just over a year ago, the multiple awards are indications that public trust is returning to the office. On May 9, the Utah Attorney General’s Office and Attorney General Sean D. Reyes received 2015 Best of State Awards for Public Safety, State Agency/Office, Web-based Community Resource and Elected Official. Best of State offers multiple awards in 10 categories and then chooses the most outstanding in each category. Attorney General Reyes was appreciative when his name was called as one of the overall winners.
“I dedicate these awards along with others we have received to each of the dedicated professionals in our office. The Utah Attorney General’s Office has continually employed award-worthy attorneys, paralegals, investigators, staff and program managers,” said AG Reyes. “With renewed focus and leadership over the past 16 months, the nearly 250 attorneys, over 200 staff members, and large investigative division are excelling to an even greater degree than ever because they now are getting the resources they need to win and win the right way. I am proud of their work and the many leaders that have joined me from both the private sector and from within the office to serve and ensure that the citizens throughout our great state know that they can depend on our efforts. These awards are a tremendous expression by the public of our progress. We appreciate the organizers of Best of State for the honor.”
The Best of the Best
Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes was awarded the BOSS (Best of State Statue)® for the Community Development category. One of only 10 awarded, this 20-pound, solid bronze, 24-karat gold-plated, sculpture is given to the most outstanding medal winner in each division.
Community Development - Public Sector - State Agency/Office
The Utah Attorney General's Office (AGO), under Attorney General Sean D. Reyes, employs a total of 461 people (244 attorneys) in offices throughout Utah. The AGO is made up of five departments (17 divisions): Civil, Criminal, Appellate, Executive, and Communications/Community. Prior to Attorney General Reyes’s appointment in December, 2013, the office was mired in allegations of wrongdoing and extreme internal and external challenges. The positive changes and momentum AG Reyes brought to the office is unprecedented. Under his leadership and armed with a top-flight executive team that he largely recruited from the private sector, the Utah Attorney General’s Office has regained trust and confidence from leaders in law, education, business, politics and, most importantly, from Utah citizens.
Community Development - Public Sector - Elected Official
Sean Reyes is the 21st Attorney General for the State of Utah. In what has been coined a landslide victory, Attorney General Reyes received over 60 percent of the vote in the 2014 general election. On January 5, 2015, at age 43, Reyes took the oath of office once again as he sworn-in by Utah Supreme Court Associate Chief Justice Thomas R. Lee. During his culturally diverse inauguration ceremony and speech, Reyes reaffirmed the Utah AGO's focus on returning to being a law office and not a political one; and on legal excellence, professionalism, and the AGO’s priority to defend the citizens, businesses and laws of Utah.
Community Development - Public Sector - Public Safety
The Utah Attorney General’s Investigation Division won the Best of State Medal for the Public Sector: Public Safety. The division is situated in the AG Criminal Department under Chief Criminal Deputy Spencer Austin and is led by Chief Investigator Leo Lucey. Chief Lucey oversees 80 post certified peace officers and support staff, made up of 40 full time agents and 40 officers from Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC) Task Force affiliates. The AG Investigations Division works around the clock to fight a wide variety of criminal activities in Utah, including terrorism, human trafficking, identity theft, child crimes, public corruption, and is recognized locally, nationally and even internationally for their professionalism and tactical success.
Community Development - Public Sector - Best Web-Based Community Resource
The Utah Attorney General’s ID Theft Central is the most innovative community-based online resource in the country for assisting citizens of all ages to report, repair, and protect against identity theft. ID Theft Central is specifically designed for Utah citizens; however, people from across the country are benefiting from the helpful information available at the website. At ID Theft Central, Utah consumers can conveniently report identity theft online as well as enroll their children in a free Child Identity Protection program. They can also learn methods to protect themselves against identity theft, find out about Utah identity theft laws, become informed about the latest scams, and locate on a map where identity theft happens in Utah. ID Theft Central is Utah’s identity theft solution.
For more information on the Utah Attorney General’s Office, visit attorneygeneral.utah.gov.
SALT LAKE CITY—May 11, 2015—Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes announced today he will testify on Thursday, May 14, 2015 at a Congressional hearing titled, A Pathway to Freedom: Rescue and Refuge for Sex Trafficking Victims, which will be held before the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee, Subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations. Reyes participated in a rescue sting operation with Operation Underground Railroad in Colombia where he and several others liberated over 120 young children from a modern-day sex slavery ring operated by a network of human traffickers. Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R) Founder and CEO and former CIA agent and special agent for the Department of Homeland Security Tim Ballard, will also testify on the growth of NGO rescue operations and how organizations such as O.U.R. can complement government agencies in expediting human and child sex trafficking rescue and rehabilitation efforts worldwide.
“I applaud Congressman Smith and the many others who support legislation like this International Megan’s Law,” said Attorney General Reyes. “Protecting children and women from exploitation by providing advance notice of intended travel by registered child-sex offenders to the government of the country of destination is another powerful step toward stopping child-sex trafficking. Having witnessed such atrocities with my own eyes last October, I can tell you this deplorable multi-billion dollar industry continues to flourish and must be stopped. By advancing International Megan’s Law, I am hopeful we can significantly reduce sex tourism and human and child sex trafficking on a nationwide and global scale.”
According to the Congressional subcommittee on Africa, Global Health, Global Human Rights, and International Organizations which oversees human trafficking, the United States government runs sting operations abroad to catch U.S. pedophile sex tourists and rescue victims where there is a nexus to the United States but often has to look to others to conduct rescue operations or run investigations that fall outside U.S. government jurisdiction. Attorney General Reyes will focus his testimony on his Colombian sting experience, his own experience combating human trafficking in Utah and why current provisions in H.R. 515 are critical to reduce and prevent human and child-sex trafficking.
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SALT LAKE CITY—April 27, 2015—Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes has made it a priority of his administration to combat trafficking of human beings for sex, hard labor, military conscription and other acts of modern day slavery. He commented today on the U.S. Senate’s passing of a victims’ rights bill for survivors of trafficking:
“I am pleased U.S. Senators from both sides of the aisle overcame any political maneuvering and joined together to pass unanimously the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act. I have witnessed up close and very personally how human trafficking and sex slavery destroys the lives of young children and women alike. Few make it out of enslavement alive. Those who do escape vitally need resources to begin healing from the atrocities they have endured. This bill can empower them to begin a very long road to recovery. It’s not a Conservative versus Progressive issue but a Humanitarian one that requires all voices uniting to sound a warning cry. I urge the same bipartisan support in the House on such an
“I look forward to testifying this May in front of Congress in favor of another important human trafficking bill that will allow us in law enforcement to better investigate and coordinate sex trafficking and other human slavery cases with agencies in other countries. I plan to share with the committee my personal experiences fighting the child sex trafficking threat, which remains rampant worldwide. With over 20 million worldwide victims, mostly women, and 5.5 million children, this despicable practice generates hundreds of millions of dollars annually and has become the second most lucrative criminal enterprise in the world. It will be a great day for these victims, their families and our society when this legislation becomes law, and starts to bring some hope to survivors in an otherwise bleak environment. I remain optimistic that rescue-oriented organizations like Operation Underground Railroad (O.U.R.) will continue to liberate and rehabilitate young girls and boys from around the world, while helping to put traffickers and sexual abusers behind bars like we did last October in Colombia during an O.U.R.-led sting.”
UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL'S OFFICE AND REP. MIKE MCKELL INTRODUCE WHITE COLLAR CRIME REGISTRY DURING NATIONAL CONSUMER PROTECTION WEEK
SALT LAKE CITY—As a longtime advocate for consumer protection and a member of the Standing Committee on Consumer Protection of the National Association of Attorneys General, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes highlighted National Consumer Protection Week (March 1-7) by promoting a legislative solution he has long championed to address white collar crimes and affinity fraud in particular. Today, in the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee, Rep. Mike McKell proposed H.B. 378, the White Collar Crime Registry, with Chief Deputy Brian Tarbet of the Attorney General’s Office testifying to the need of informing and protecting citizens from investing with those who have previously been convicted of second degree felonies for financial crimes. The bill passed the Judicial Committee unanimously today and will progress to the floor.
The proposed White Collar Crime Registry has been introduced to modify the Utah Code of Criminal Procedure to include a registry for persons who commit specified white collar crimes. While introducing the legislation, Rep. Mike McKell said, “Utah is a hot bed for financial fraud committed by repeat offenders. Many people in our state have trusting relationships with those who take their money in multi million dollar schemes and many times those particular people have already been convicted of financial crimes.” Rep. McKell pointed out that the information is already public in legal databases, but is not organized or easily accessible for consumers. Rep. McKell thanked the Attorney General for his foresight in bringing to the legislature such a simple but powerful educational tool and protection for Utah citizens.
Utah Attorney General Chief Civil Deputy Brian Tarbet testified to the need for the consumer protection resource by saying, “[Outside of budget], this is the Attorney General’s top priority for this legislative session because of the high level of affinity fraud we prosecute in our office and are aware of throughout the state. This registry is a tool to help empower and inform Utah citizens before investing with those who have illegal pasts and unsavory business practices that have led to second degree felony convictions.”
According to Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, despite so many positive economic indicators and a tremendous environment overall for business in the state, Utah is sadly known for its high level of financial vulnerability to affinity fraud (exploiting relationships of trust). “Utah’s unique personal interweavings and close relationships offer a rich environment for predatory behavior and financial crimes in our state. We trust those in our neighborhoods, in our churches, in our social circles and in our professions. While in many ways trust is a healthy community trait that fosters social strength and business success, it also leaves our citizens quite susceptible to those who would exploit that trust.”
AG Reyes further stated: “I have long hoped we could bring a bill that will further equip citizens to protect themselves from financial fraud. This registry will make already public information much more accessible for the average citizen in this digital age. It will inform anyone performing a simple name search if they are investing with someone who has previously been convicted of financial crimes. People spend all sorts of time reading reviews and searching information before they buy a computer, T.V. or even blender. Often they will invest their entire nest egg with no due diligence at all. A simple search on this registry may save you your life savings. And this tool will hopefully curtail some of the billions of dollars lost in Utah to investment fraud and other financial crimes. This will be a tremendous outcome for citizens if passed.”
White Collar Registry H.B. 378 is currently in its first substitute. After passing in the House Law Enforcement and Criminal Justice Standing Committee, it will now move to the floor. The current state of the bill authorizes the Utah Attorney General’s Office to develop, operate, and maintain the Utah White Collar Crime Offender Registry website.
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ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN D. REYES RESPONDS TO ORDER OF TEMPORARY INJUNCTION IN STATES' LAWSUIT CHALLENGING PRESIDENT OBAMA'S EXEC. ACTION ON IMMIGRATION
SALT LAKE CITY—Today, the United States District Court for the Southern District of Texas issued an Order of Temporary Injunction in the lawsuit joined by 25 states, including Utah, challenging President Obama’s unilateral executive action regarding immigration policy. Attorney General Sean D. Reyes reminded citizens of Utah that the lawsuit is based on a constitutional challenge to the President bypassing Congress and exceeding his executive authority. Additionally, to the extent he had any rule making authority, the lawsuit addresses how President Obama failed to comply with statutory requirements, which bind his administration. For full statement, click here.
“Let me say this again. We did not join this lawsuit to address immigration policy. Whether you agree or disagree with some, all or none of the President's proposal is not the point. The process of how President Obama overstepped his legal authority is what is being challenged,” said AG Reyes. “Regardless of how you feel about the policy, it does not justify implementation in an unconstitutional manner. We are encouraged that the courts are reviewing this action and that this temporary injunction has been ordered.”
SALT LAKE CITY—Today, in the Utah State Capitol Hall of Governors, reflections of fallen officers were shared. Heroes by the names of Sgt. Cory Wride, Sgt. Derek Johnson, Trooper Aaron Beesley, Officer Jared Francom and Deputy Brian Harris were each remembered for their courage, their innate desire to protect and serve others, and ultimately their untimely deaths while serving as peace officers. The five represented all fallen Utah officers and the event was organized by Iron County Commissioner Dale Brinkerhoff and other county commissioners to show support for the law enforcement community. For full statement, click on headline.
SALT LAKE CITY—Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes, the first American Attorney General of Filipino ancestry, today makes the following statement pertaining to Pope Francis’ visit to the Philippines. For full statement, click on headline.
NATIONAL RIFLE ASSOCIATION ENDORSES UTAH ATTORNEY GENERAL SEAN REYES
SALT LAKE CITY—Based on his support of and commitment to the Second Amendment, Attorney General Sean Reyes has earned an “A” rating and endorsement for reelection from the NRA-PVF in the 2014 general election. An “A” rating is reserved for a solidly pro-gun elected official who has consistently supported the NRA’s position on votes of importance to gun owners and sportsmen. Read More