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Federal Prosecutors, UTA Reach Cooperation Agreement In Ongoing Investigation

Nicole Nixon, KUER

Federal prosecutors announced Tuesday that they have reached a deal with the Utah Transit Authority in an ongoing investigation into potential ethical and criminal violations.

U.S. Attorney for Utah John Huber confirmed that federal investigators are in the midst of probing UTA for possible corruption and misuse of public funds. A non-prosecution agreement struck between Huber and UTA officials means that prosecutors will not file charges against UTA, and in exchange, the agency is required to fully cooperate and provide information about current and past employees.

“This is a positive development and an agreement that not only advances the general interests of justice, but also significantly benefits our continued investigation into individual misconduct,” Huber said at a news conference Tuesday.  

Under the agreement, UTA is required to hire an independent contractor to monitor reforms within the agency for three years.

UTA’s Board Chairman Bob McKinley declined to name individuals being questioned by investigators, saying only that as far as he knows, no current employee or board member is under investigation.

“We are restricted by the terms of the agreement and can’t discuss specific individuals mentioned in the documents,” McKinley said at a separate press conference Tuesday afternoon.

UTA and federal prosecutors called the agreement a “positive development” but not everyone is pleased. State Senator and former UTA board member Karen Mayne, D-West Valley City, criticized the agency for its continued problems.

“My colleagues and I are going to have conversations about this and if they (UTA) need to be pulled back into the mainstream of where they should be,” Mayne said. “They are an arm of state government.”

McKinley and UTA CEO Jerry Benson say they have made plenty of reforms since a 2014 legislative audit, which found financial mismanagement and poor project oversight, and say they are fully committed to cooperating with the investigation.

Read the full agreement here:

Nicole Nixon holds a Communication degree from the University of Utah. She has worked on and off in the KUER Newsroom since 2013, when she first joined KUER as an intern. Nicole is a Utah native. Besides public radio, she is also passionate about beautiful landscapes and breakfast burritos.
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