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New evidence expanded Corradini probe twice

Salt Lake County District Attorney Neal Gunnarson and his staff expanded their investigation into Mayor Deedee Corradini twice, apparently because new evidence kept cropping up.

That's according to documents related to the investigation that were released to the Deseret News last week.Gunnarson and his investigator Michael George apparently kept coming up with more information that widened the scope of the investigation.

The investigation initially focused on gifts of $1,000 or more but then widened to gifts of $10,000 or more. In his affidavits supporting the requests to expand the investigation, George also discussed certain people (whose names have been redacted from the documents) who had given Corradini large gifts, particularly focusing on a donor who had something named after him and who George believed influenced the choice of its director.

Donor James Sorenson had contributed substantially to the Sorenson Multicultural Center in Glendale.

George also sought city documents relating to board appointments, engineering, contracts and planning issues in an apparent attempt to ascertain whether Corradini's gifts influenced her actions as mayor.

Gunnarson ultimately concluded that they did not.

The documents also reveal that Gunnarson received video tapes, audio tapes, copies of checks and correspondence, business licenses, bank statements, contracts and tax information in the course of his investigation.

Gunnarson sought, and received, a secrecy order over his investigation from 3rd District Judge Homer Wilkinson last winter. The Salt Lake Tribune filed suit last spring seeking documents relating to the secrecy order (though not documents gleaned from the investigation itself). Wilkinson denied the request, which the Tribune then appealed to the Utah Supreme Court with the help of the Deseret News.

The Supreme Court ruled Sept. 23 that Wilkinson had to release the documents.

According to the order, 3rd District Court Clerk Byron Stark released a number of documents last week including Gunnarson's request to conduct an investigation and request to keep it secret and Wilkinson's orders granting the request.

But Deseret News attorney Jeffrey Hunt said the release did not fully comply with the Supreme Court order. Earlier this week he requested further documents, which have now been furnished with names and other identifying information redacted.

The documents include: a description of documents Gunnarson received by subpoena, Gunnarson's applications and Wilkinson's orders keeping witness identity and the application to conduct the investigation secret, the two applications to expand the investigation, their accompanying good cause statements, and the orders granting the expansions.

Wilkinson has yet to release George's affidavit supporting Gunnarson's initial application to conduct an investigation, even though Hunt requested it.

Hunt and Tribune attorneys have not yet decided whether to seek the documents generated during the investigation itself.