Indicted businessman Jeremy Johnson files court papers saying FTC abused power

He claims A.G. John Swallow has been under investigation for nearly a year

Published: Friday, May 3 2013 5:50 p.m. MDT

SALT LAKE CITY — Indicted Utah businessman Jeremy Johnson is taking his caustic social media fight against what he has called "dirty deeds by big government" to the courts.

Johnson filed a 39-page document in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas late Thursday lambasting the Federal Trade Commission over its lawsuit against him and his once-lucrative Internet enterprise, iWorks.

The document also reveals that Utah Attorney General John Swallow may have been under federal investigation as early as June 2012.

In the filing, Johnson accuses federal attorneys and agents of misconduct and conspiring to fabricate evidence against him. He contends investigators used threats, bribery, extortion, forgery and manipulation of judges to build their case.

"From day one in this case, the government has taken a 'shoot first and ask questions later' approach. Individuals have misused their undeniable power," he wrote.

Johnson cites two government witnesses — a consumer and a former iWorks employee — who now say the FTC coerced them into signing or forging their signatures on false statements.

The 37-year-old St. George man and three associates who are acting as their own lawyers in the case also use the document to proclaim their innocence and put their side of the story on the court record — something Johnson has said government lawyers have blocked him from doing.

Until now, he has relied on social media to make his case, as well as attack the government, including a vitriolic website called evilftc.com.

Johnson's Thursday court filing, including 167 pages of supplemental information, is a response to an unusual joint motion by the U.S. attorney for Nevada and the U.S. Attorney's Office in Salt Lake City seeking a court order preventing Johnson and other defendants from interviewing witnesses in the civil case. Federal prosecutors contend allowing him to gather evidence in the FTC matter will compromise the criminal case against him.

"The proposed stay is necessary to prevent these defendants from using the civil discovery process to obtain information to which they are not entitled in the criminal case," prosecutors in Las Vegas wrote.

Johnson and four former iWorks executives are named in two cases running simultaneously through the federal court system — the civil FTC complaint in Las Vegas and the criminal fraud charges in Salt Lake City.

The parallel cases have witnesses, facts and legal issues in common. The complications have caused a dispute among lawyers regarding access to witnesses, including those the government has identified as victims of alleged fraud.

Investigating Swallow

Johnson's court filing sheds light on investigators' interest in Swallow.

It includes a copy of a proffer the U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah made to Johnson's former attorney "in connection with the government investigation of a person or persons known by your client concerning violations of federal statutes." It is dated June 20, 2012, and signed by assistant U.S. attorney Carlos Esqueda.

The proffer doesn't name Swallow, but Johnson said in his court filing it refers to Swallow, who was then a Republican candidate for attorney general. Johnson writes that prosecutors offered him a plea bargain in exchange for information about Swallow. Johnson, who faced a single count of mail fraud at the time, ultimately did not agree to help in the investigation.

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