HURRICANE — Indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson spent several hours in jail Sunday after being arrested on a warrant for allegedly writing bad checks for more than $100,000 at a Las Vegas casino.
Johnson says the arrest is "self-fulfilled prophesy" related to the Federal Trade Commission fraud case pending against him.
"There was plenty of money to cover all the checks written on the accounts. The government decided to bounce them not me. They are very angry with me at the moment so this is their retaliation. They badly want me back in jail where I can't defend myself in the case," he wrote in an email to the Deseret News.
Hurricane police stopped Johnson after receiving information he was driving a vehicle that did not belong to him. Officers contacted the owner who told them he had given Johnson permission to drive the vehicle, said Hurricane police spokeswoman Nancy Perkins.
During the traffic stop, police ran a routine check on Johnson, 35, and found an outstanding warrant from Nevada, she said. Officers booked Johnson into the Washington County Jail just after 5 p.m. on the third-degree felony theft warrant, which carried a cash-only bail of $112,150, jail records show.
Washington County sheriff's spokesman Nate Abbott said another party posted bail for Johnson and he was released a couple of hours later.
According to the Clark County District Attorney's Office, Johnson wrote checks six checks totaling $108,400 for cash or gaming chips at the Wynn Las Vegas hotel and casino Nov. 26, 2010, that he did not have sufficient funds to cover. A judge issued an arrest warrant for Johnson on Oct. 20, 2011.
Johnson revealed in a federal deposition that he was a habitual gambler, dropping nearly $3 million at Las Vegas casinos and playing online poker since 2006.
The checks were sent in good faith, and were not accepted because a federal judge in the FTC case froze all of his assets, Johnson said.
"All checks outstanding were simply returned unpaid when the government refused to allow the bank to honor them," he said.
Johnson said the FTC has "become increasingly hostile against him in recent weeks" because he is trying to obtain a recording of a telephone call he received from an FTC attorney while in the Davis County Jail this summer.
During a federal court hearing in Salt Lake City in September, Johnson's attorney complained about the call to the judge. Federal prosecutor Brent Ward said the call was "wholly improper" and assured the judge it would not happen again.
The FTC filed a complaint against Johnson last December alleging he bilked more than $275 million from online consumers by charging their credit cards for services they didn't sign up for. A federal court in Nevada seized his assets and placed him under tight financial restrictions.
In June, federal authorities arrested Johnson and indicted him with mail fraud in connection with his Internet marketing businesses. Initially considered a flight risk, he spent three months in jail until his family and friends posted a $2.8 million property bond to ensure his appearance at future court hearings.