The man accused of perpetrating what has been called "the biggest domestic Internet fraud case" likely will remain in custody until his trial in U.S. District Court for Utah.

At a hearing Wednesday, Russell Dana Smith, a k a John Leary, was denied permission to be released pending his trial in federal court.

Smith in October was indicted on 40 counts of mail fraud, eight counts of wire fraud, three counts of credit union fraud and one count of failure to file a tax return, in addition to two counts handed down in June of using a false Social Security number, which investigators say Smith used to set up bank accounts.

The charges followed a joint investigation by the FBI, Internal Revenue Service, Utah Cybercrime Task Force, Salt Lake County Sheriff's Office, and Salt Lake City and South Salt Lake police. They allege that Smith, former owner of Liquidation Universe, auctioned off to hundreds of customers about $1 million in laptops, which were never delivered. In May 2003, buyers began complaining about the company, and eBay eventually blocked the company from using its Web auction site.

The indictment also states that Smith participated in fraudulent laptop auctions under a company called Rapid Computer Services. The mail, wire transfer and credit union fraud charges relate to the alleged transfer or receipt of "ill-gotten" money.

Smith has been in custody since his indictment, according to U.S. Attorneys Office spokeswoman Melodie Rydalch. On Wednesday, he asked U.S. Magistrate Judge David Nuffer to consider releasing him until his trial, which is scheduled for June 14.

"Based on the facts the judge heard today, he's still in custody," Rydalch said.

Smith's federal defense attorney could not be reached for comment.


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