It won't be sufficient to say, 'We need a lot more time. I'm going to need justification for lots more time. —U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Warner
SALT LAKE CITY — A federal judge indicated Tuesday that it is his plan to set a trial date for St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson and four of his colleagues when they return to court in August.
Johnson, Scott Leavitt, Bryce Payne, Ryan Riddle and Loyd Johnston were named in an 86-count indictment alleging that they committed fraud in connection with Johnson's online business, iWorks. Tuesday, U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Warner asked attorneys for the five men to prepare projected budgets for their individual clients by July 7. He said he would then review the budgets in advance of an Aug. 5 status conference.
Warner also said he would set a trial date at that time and that he wants the trial to begin six months later in early 2015. When defense attorneys indicated they believe they would need more time, the judge told them to review the evidence between now and August.
"It won't be sufficient to say, 'We need a lot more time,'" Warner warned. "I'm going to need justification for lots more time."
The five men were charged in March 2013 and prosecutors asked the judge to set a trial in April, expressing concerns about the memories of witnesses as the alleged crimes date back five years. But the large amount of evidence in the case called for more time, Warner decided.
Tuesday, the judge said that the government's entire case is now available for the defense and that 70 percent of additional emails that may relate to the case have been uploaded as well.
"The government's case — everything they intend to use or consider for use, will use or may use — that has been loaded and is available," Warner said. "Barring a showing by an individual defendant that there is something out there that is relative and necessary to their defense, we've reasonably provided what we can provide."
The 86-page federal indictment mirrored a civil complaint the Federal Trade Commission filed against Johnson in December 2010. The complaint, which also named Leavitt, Payne, Riddle and Johnston, claims iWorks bilked online consumers for nearly $300 million.
In the federal court case, prosecutors allege iWorks used numerous websites to tout bogus government grants that were available to stop foreclosures and pay down debt and pay for personal expenses such as groceries, home repairs and utilities. The sites claimed the grants could be accessed through a CD offered for a $2.29 shipping fee.
Many customers who ordered the CDs found them to contain the information as represented and reported that their credit cards were charged for other products they did not know about or intend to buy, according to the indictment.