SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — A federal grand jury on Wednesday stacked dozens of new Internet fraud charges on a Utah businessman who just months ago rejected a plea bargain and complained he had paid a bribe to make the case go away.
Jeremy Johnson was hit with 85 fraud and money laundering counts in a new indictment that adds four business associates who weren't previously defendants in the case.
Prosecutors say Johnson's businesses used the Internet to fraudulently enroll millions of people in get-rich schemes by charging their credit cards without authorization. He was originally indicted nearly a year ago on three counts of fraud and money laundering.
Johnson has maintained his innocence. He rejected a plea deal in January with explosive allegations of misconduct against federal and state prosecutors.
He accused newly elected Utah Attorney General John Swallow of being part of a high-level bribery scheme that Johnson complains failed to derail a federal investigation into his business practices.
Swallow was barely a week in office when Johnson made his complaints widely known. The U.S. attorney's office said it's investigating and asked a federal magistrate to put Johnson under a gag order.
U.S. Attorney David Barlow says Johnson is using a blog, website, Facebook page and Salt Lake City media outlets to wrongly accuse the government and its prosecutors of misconduct.
U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Warner has set a March 12 hearing on the gag order.
Prosecutors got their payback Wednesday when the grand jury added the new charges of bank and wire fraud, conspiracy, and money laundering.
The St. George businessman was ordered to appear in federal court in Salt Lake City on April 10.
"We intend to defend it vigorously in the court and not in the media," Johnson's lawyer, Ronald Yengich, said in a statement Wednesday.
Yengich is new to the case. Johnson lost four other lawyers who quit the case last month for reasons they explained only to a magistrate in private chambers.
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