U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman will become a partner at the Salt Lake City law firm of Ray Quinney & Nebeker next month after he resigns his prosecutorial post Dec. 31, The Associated Press reports. When he announced his resignation in October, he said he wanted to stay until the end of the year in order to oversee the case against Brian David Mitchell, who is charged in the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart. The case is ongoing, as Mitchell’s competency to stand trial remains in question.
The outgoing prosecutor told AP his work at the firm will focus on corporate compliance issues and the development of corporate policies and procedure. Tolman also told the AP he plans to do some government relations work and lobbying.
Tolman, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006, oversaw a controversial federal raid last June of Utahns alleged to have plundered Indian burial grounds. The raids sparked an anti-government backlash. They also caused Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff to fire off an angry letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder complaining about Tolman.
At the time, state officials were upset about a federal round-up of Utahns suspected of illegally selling Indian artifacts plundered from burial grounds. Although Shurtleff was ordered to release the letter by the Utah Records Committee, he plans to appeal the decision.
Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) has recommended former federal prosecutor David Schwendiman to replace Tolman, but President Barack Obama has not announced an appointment.
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U.S. Attorney for Utah Brett Tolman announced today that he will resign on Dec. 31, The Deseret News reported.
Tolman, who was appointed by President George W. Bush in 2006, oversaw a controversial federal raid of Utahans last June alleged to have plundered Indian burial grounds. The raids sparked an anti-government backlash. They also caused Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff to fire off an angry letter to Attorney General Eric Holder complaining about Tolman. At the time, state officials were upset about a federal round-up of Utahans suspected of illegally selling Indian artifacts plundered from burial grounds. Although Shurtleff was ordered to release the letter, he plans to appeal the decision.
During a news conference today, Tolman said he isn’t resigning immediately, because he want to continue to oversee the case against Brian David Mitchell, who is charged in the 2002 kidnapping of Elizabeth Smart, The Deseret News reported. Mitchell’s competency hearing continues on Nov. 30. Tolman said the competency hearing will ” be taken care of the end of November and first part of December,” KSL reported.
Tolman thanked the Obama administration for having “been patient in allowing me to stay as long as they have.” He said the new administration has not asked him to resign. Rep. Jim Matheson (D-Utah) recommended former federal prosecutor David Schwendiman to replace Tolman.
“I’m proud of the time I’ve had, but I’m excited for the adventure ahead of me,” Tolman said, according to The Deseret News. ”I love Utah, I love the lifestyle here, the people, and I want to make a difference in this community if I can.” Tolman plans to stay in Salt Lake City and practice law at a private firm, The Deseret News reported. Read The Salt Lake City Tribune article here.
Check out the press conference:
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Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff plans to appeal a ruling ordering him to release a letter he sent to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder in which he complained about Brett Tolman, the U.S. Attorney for Utah, The Associated Press reported.
Last June, Shurtleff sent an apparently angry letter to Holder about Tolman. At the time, state officials were upset about a federal round-up of Utahans suspected of illegally selling Indian artifacts plundered from burial grounds. More than 100 armed federal agents conducted raids on the homes of 24 suspects, which state officials argued was over the top. Shurtleff took aim at Tolman, whom he accused of not cooperating with state and local counterparts.
While Shurtleff and his staff have talked in general terms about the letter, they have refused to release copies of it to The Salt Lake City Tribune. The newspaper appealed Shurtleff’s denial to the Utah Records Committee. The committee on Sept. 10 ordered the state attorney general to release the letter. This is the ruling Shurtleff has announced he will appeal.
An attorney for The Tribune criticized Shurtleff for being “willing to waste taxpayer time and money” to appeal the decision. According to Shurtleff, disclosing the letter would invade Tolman’s privacy.
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A mother and daughter received probation yesterday for their roles in the theft and illegal trafficking of Indian artifacts in Utah, The Associated Press reported today.
Government lawyers sought a prison sentence of at least 18 months for Jeanne Redd on multiple counts stemming from the Utah Indian artifacts raid in June, according to The AP. She received three years of probation and a $2,000 fine on seven felony counts. Her daughter, Jerrica Redd, got two years of probation on three related counts. The mother and daughter pleaded guilty to the charges in July.
More than 150 federal agents were involved in the raid that nabbed more than two dozen people for alleged violations of the Archaeological Resources Protection Act and the Native American Graves Protection and Repatriation Act. Utah U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman had to issue a statement and hold a news conference to defend the federal actions, which drew scorn from Utah officials, including Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett.
Hatch said the raid was “unnecessary and brutal.” Physician James Redd, Jeanne Redd’s husband, committed suicide a day after he was charged in the raid, followed by the suicide of another suspect a week later.
Tolman told The AP that a prison sentence for Jeanne Redd would have been the correct decision “given the serious nature of the conduct involved in this case.”
“The judge, however, reached a different decision and we recognize that sentencing is within the court’s discretion,” Tolman told the news wire. “The public needs to understand that looting artifacts, many considered sacred by Native Americans, from public and tribal lands is simply not going to be tolerated.”
U.S. District Judge Clark Waddoups said, according to The AP, that artifact collecting isn’t justified simply because it is a “culturally accepted” hobby in the Southwest. But he did not follow federal judiciary sentencing guidelines, saying Jeanne Redd was repentant, quickly surrendered and is an important community member who is still coping with her husband’s suicide, the news wire reported.
“I am satisfied this conduct will not be repeated,” he said, according to The AP.
The judge said he was aware Jeanne Redd had a past encounter with the law over Indian artifacts, according to The AP. Jeanne and James Redd paid the state of Utah $10,000 in 2003 after they were prosecuted for looting an Indian burial ground. The charges against James Redd for the 1996 incident were eventually dropped, while his wife pleaded no contest to a reduced charge.
Jerrica Redd was not charged during the June 10 raid. Authorities later found evidence in the Redds’ home that allegedly connected her to the artifact thefts, The Salt Lake Tribune reported.
Jeanne and Jerrica Redd were the first people from the raid to be sentenced.
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Last June, Utah Attorney General Mark Shurtleff fired off an apparently angry letter to U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder about the state’s U.S. Attorney. At the time, state officials were livid about a federal round-up of Utahans suspected of illegally selling Indian artifacts plundered from burial grounds. More than 100 armed federal agents conducted raids on the homes of 24 suspects – overkill, Utah officials argued. Shurtleff took aim at Brett Tolman, the state’s top federal prosecutor, whom he accused of not cooperating with state and local counterparts.
Well, that law enforcement spat didn’t look good, and Shurtleff and Tolman quickly made up. But now, the letter Shurtleff sent in the heat of the moment might become public.
The Utah Records Committee on Thursday voted 6-1 to require Shurtleff to release his letter to Holder, which he’d mailed to the AG’s home address in Washington, The Salt Lake Tribune reported today.
While Shurtleff has discussed the letter in general terms, he has denied a request by The Tribune to release the letter. The Tribune appealed to the records committee, which produced Thursday’s decision. Despite requests from Tolman’s lawyers not to release the letter, committee member Scott Daniels said the letter is “clearly about a public matter.”
According to Jerrold Jensen, a lawyer for Shurtleff, the state attorney general has the authority to keep the letter private, noting a 1990 Utah Supreme Court ruling regarding “executive privilege.” In addition, because the relevant issues have since been resolved, the disclosure of the letter would create unnecessary drama, according to Jensen. “To disclose the letter now, given the current state of affairs, would not benefit the public,” Jensen said.
Michael O’Brien, an attorney for The Tribune, disagreed with the public officials’ privacy claims and said the state legislature had negated the 1990 ruling. He said the letter is “about something inherently in the public interest; about how Utah’s two top lawmen are working or not working with one another.”
Shurtleff can appeal the committee’s ruling to state court.
The two-year artifacts case has netted 26 indictments so far. But it also produced an anti-government backlash in Utah. Two defendants committed suicide. A man with alleged ties to white supremacists was charged with threatening to tie a government informant to a tree and beat him with a baseball bat. A local sheriff said he wanted to file charges against the feds over the matter, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) dressed down Holder for the raids at a congressional hearing last June.
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The sheriff of San Juan County, Utah, won’t rule out asking state prosecutors to bring charges against federal agents he said acted brutally during the federal government’s controversial round-up of accused Indian artifact traffickers, The Salt Lake Tribune reported this afternoon.
Sheriff Mike Lacy, whose brother was arrested in the high-profile raid, told The Tribune he is “not saying yay or nay” on pursuing state charges against the federal agents. But San Juan County Attorney Craig C. Halls sounded doubtful. ”My initial reaction would be [filing charges] may be questionable,” Halls told the newspaper.
Attorney General Eric Holder received flack from Republican Sens. Orrin Hatch and Bob Bennett of Utah for the force used in the raid, even though the most serious injury was a suspect’s broken toe.
Hatch said in June that the use of more than 100 armed agents to arrest 24 alleged perpetrators for non-violent crimes was “unnecessary and brutal.” Two defendants have committed suicide since the June 10 raid, and a man with white supremacist ties was indicted for threatening to tie a government informant to a tree and beat him with a baseball bat.
Read our previous report about the suicides here.
Utah U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman said in a June news conference that the raid was conducted under standard operating procedure and to deny that excessive force was used.
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A Utah man accused of planning to beat a government informant who helped build a case against alleged Indian artifacts thieves pleaded not guilty in federal court Thursday. Prosecutors said he had ties to white supremacists.
A grand jury returned an indictment against Charles Denton Armstrong, 44, on Wednesday. He was charged with one count of retaliation. Prosecutors said Armstrong told a witness he planned to tie a government informant to a tree and beat him with a baseball bat. Armstrong blamed the informant for the suicide of his doctor, James Redd, the government said. Read the Salt Lake Tribune story here.
Redd killed himself June 11, a day after 150 federal agents raided the homes of Utahans suspected of trafficking in artifacts stolen from tribal lands. The raids, which netted 24 indictments, sparked a chorus of protests in Utah, and Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-Utah) criticized Attorney General Eric Holder for them at a Senate Judiciary Committee hearing in June. Utah U.S. Attorney Brett Tolman later held a news conference to say the raids were conducted under standard operating procedure and to deny that excessive force was used.
Another accused artifacts trafficker also later committed suicide. Read our previous report about the suicides here. Redd’s wife and daughter, meanwhile, pleaded guilty earlier this month to theft charges in connection with the case.
Armstrong, who was being treated by James Redd for a degenerative spinal disorder, told a witness that he knew who the confidential source was who helped in the investigation and that he was going to “take care of him” because he blamed the source for Redd’s suicide.
Prosecutors say Armstrong has a violent history, has served time in prison and identified himself as a member of a white supremacist gang.