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Jeremy Johnson asks for a mistrial in fraud, money laundering case

SALT LAKE CITY — Jeremy Johnson has asked for a mistrial in the fraud and money laundering case against the ex-millionaire and two of his business partners, as jurors wrapped up a second day of deliberations.

In a motion filed Monday, Johnson, who defended himself throughout the trial, claimed a promise to revise jury instructions was not upheld and prosecutors misled jurors in closing arguments about whether a card processing company doing business with Johnson was aware of the "processing structure" his online business used.

Johnson's motion claims he agreed to rest his case early with the understanding that jury instructions would not focus on details of chargebacks to his defunct Internet company, iWorks, or the domain names and websites it used. However, those references remained in the instructions, Johnson says.

"As to each of those jury instructions, Johnson has been impaired in the presentation of his defense because he presented no defense in reliance upon the agreement that 'domain names,' chargebacks, marketing and websites would not be considered by the jury," Johnson wrote.

Johnson also accused assistant U.S. attorney Jason Burt of deliberately misleading jurors about whether representatives from CardFlex and Wells Fargo bank were aware that the numerous corporations they were doing business as were actually part of iWorks. Prosecutors said Johnson and his co-defendants hid iWorks' involvement, while the defense claimed the card processing company and the bank were aware of his company's business model.

Johnson also claims Burt and assistant U.S. attorney Robert Lunnen misrepresented when and how iWorks' accounts with Wells Fargo were terminated and that the bank suffered a loss due to iWorks, which Johnson denies.

"When considered in the context of the entire case and against the backdrop of the importance of the credibility of witnesses, Johnson alleges and argues here that the untrue statements made by assistant U.S. attorneys Burt and Lunnen had, and have, a high likelihood of misleading the jury and that such statements substantially impaired Johnson's right to a fair and impartial trial," the motion states, asking for either a mistrial or a dismissal.

After nearly six weeks of testimony, jurors considering the long-awaited trial deliberated nearly seven hours Monday before recessing. They deliberated about 4 ½ hours Friday before retiring for the weekend.

Prosecutors say Johnson and his two co-defendants, Ryan Riddle and Scott Leavitt, acted illegally when they used the names of friends, family members and employees to wrap Johnson's failing Internet company in 37 shell corporations and 281 merchant accounts.

Johnson made a final plea to the jury Friday saying his only intent was to keep the business he had invested nearly a decade in.

Johnson, Riddle and Leavitt stand accused in an 86-count indictment alleging conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in connection with iWorks.

Johnson is also a key figure in the cases against former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff, who face criminal charges accusing them of trading favors during their time in office for preferential treatment.

Email: mromero@deseretnews.com

Twitter: McKenzieRomero