Friday, May 17, 2013

Christner and Jensen Escape Utah Fines Because Francine Giani Did Not Want To Piss Off John Swallow

Slow movement on enforcement of the Utah Division of Consumer Protection judgments against Aaron Vincent Christner (aka Vince Scarpussi) and Ryan Scott Jensen (aka Ari Schwimmer) may be because Utah Department of Commerce Director Francine Giani did not want to piss off embattled Utah Attorney General John Swallow. Traci Gundersen-the Director of the Utah Division of Consumer Protection- was prepared to file a complaint accusing the then-candidate for attorney general John Swallow of breaking Utah State Bar Association rules after he met with Aaron Christner, then fined and under additional investigation by Consumer Protection.

According to a story my KUTV's Matt Gephardt, Giani advised Gundersen, “Don’t do it.” Gundersen confirmed this saying, “It was represented to me that I could file it if I really felt it was necessary but that if I were to do so it would probably ruin my career. I think [Swallow] was viewed at this powerful figure,” Gundersen continued. “If you put your neck out on the line for something like this then you risk being stepped on in retaliation for it."  Gundersen also told KUTV's Matt Gephardt that she chose not to file at that time, in part, because she feared disobeying Giani. Gundersen says she thought she might lose her job which she needed for health insurance coverage for her two young children.
Aaron Chrisnter and John Swallow
 
This all would have taken place im May and June 2012, when Aaron Vincent Christner taped conversations with candidate John Swallow and asked the candidate to get the Utah Division of Consumer Protection off his back. Subsequently, Christner released the tape of the conversation to the press. John Swallow seemed to also imply that if Christner could pony up a good donation to his campaign, Swallow would make life a lot easier for the convicted scammer. Swallow also promised that the division would lose it autonomy, and he would take control of the Division under the AG's office.

So at the same time Aaron Christner creates the illusion in the media that he is somehow being protected by Swallow, Utah Department of Commerce Director Francine Giani is essentially quashing an investigation into that relationship by the Director of the Utah Division of Consumer Protection, Traci Gundersen.  It was not until Traci Gundersen had resigned from Utah Division of Consumer Protection that she felt able to file the complaint against the Attorney General.

In hind-sight, Gundersen says she regrets not filing the complaint sooner but it seemed clear to her that her boss did not want her to go after John Swallow. Gundersen said she was disappointed that she did not have Giani’s support to file the complaint. She says she ultimately made the decision to file it after resigning from Consumer Protection because she felt it was the right thing to do on behalf of Utah consumers.

It was a courageous move because she has nothing to gain personally from doing so and she had been warned it could cost her future employment.  And, in the meantime, because of all the politicking between the AG, Consumer Protection and the Utah Department of Commerce, the criminals have escaped. Aaron Christner and Ryan Jensen have now moved out of the state of Utah without being held accountable for their actions. They have been fined, to be sure, but the fines have never been enforced. They have essentially gotten off scot-free, to run their scams unimpeded in Colorado.

Thanks to the cronyism and ass-kissing that is Utah government. You have to give the Utah Division of Consumer Protection for trying- they got substancial fines against these two crooks- but when the fear of pissing off the AG sets the policy rather than doing what is right, the Utah Consumers are the ultimate victims.