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Millionaire adventurer pleads not guilty; more charges may come

Published: Thursday, July 7 2011 12:14 p.m. MDT

Jeremy David Johnson

, Davis County Sheriff's Office

SALT LAKE CITY — A Utah philanthropist will get a chance next week to argue for his release from federal custody.

Meanwhile, federal prosecutors are talking about expanding charges against him.

During a hearing in federal court Thursday, Jeremy David Johnson pleaded not guilty to one count of mail fraud. If convicted, he could face up to 20 years in prison and a $250,000 fine.

Johnson, who at one time was considered a multimillionaire, also declared to a federal magistrate judge that he could not afford to hire an attorney and asked for a public defense attorney to be appointed to him. Defense attorney Nathan Crane said his client's assets have been frozen.

Assistant U.S. attorney Brent Ward said it is likely that the government will seek an additional grand jury indictment against Johnson within the coming weeks. Before being indicted on mail fraud last June, the Federal Trade Commission had filed a civil action against Johnson in Las Vegas in connection to his IWorks business.

Federal investigators say Johnson fueled a lavish and attention-getting lifestyle through a fraudulent business scheme which netted him around $275 million.

The 35-year-old St. George man was known to have purchased expensive homes, a dozen helicopters and planes, gold, even a Ferrari and Lamborghini. He also shared money with family, friends and LDS Church ward.

Johnson received international attention when he flew one of his helicopters to Haiti last year to provide food relief to starving earthquake victims and rush injured children to hospitals. He was also known to frequently fly search-and-rescue missions for the Washington County Sheriff's Office..

Email: gfattah@desnews.com

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