Prosecutors fire back at Jeremy Johnson's plea for mistrial
SALT LAKE CITY — In a motion filed as jury deliberations churned on Wednesday, federal prosecutors pushed back against ex-millionaire Jeremy Johnson's motion to dismiss the fraud and money laundering charges against him and declare a mistrial.
Prosecutors denied Johnson's allegations they knowingly misrepresented information to jurors in closing arguments last week in the case against Johnson and two former business partners, Scott Leavitt and Ryan Riddle. The motion affirmed all arguments made by assistant U.S. attorneys Jason Burt and Robert Lunnen on Thursday were "rooted directly in the evidence and testimony in the case."
Asking that Johnson's motion be dismissed, prosecutors said that even if the court were to identify any misstatements, jurors were instructed not to treat closing arguments as evidence and the issue would not warrant a mistrial.
Johnson, who defended himself throughout the trial, filed a motion Monday claiming a promise to revise jury instructions referring to domain names and marketing of his defunct Internet company, iWorks, was not upheld, and accusing prosecutors of misleading jurors about whether a card processing company doing business with Johnson was aware of the "processing structure" his online business used.
Johnson followed up that motion with a new filing Wednesday asking the court to clarify a gag order that has been in place for the past three years, claiming an email from prosecutors had accused him of violating it in his petition for a mistrial.
Meanwhile, jurors have deliberated the case for 3 ½ days. They will resume deliberations Thursday morning.
Johnson, Leavitt and Riddle stand accused in an 86-count indictment alleging conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud and money laundering in connection with iWorks. Riddle is facing 56 of those counts. Prosecutors say the businessmen 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 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.
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