SALT LAKE CITY — Attorneys for Jeremy Johnson's once thriving online marketing company asked a Nevada judge to deny the Federal Trade Commission's request to rule in its favor without a trial.
Lawyer Karra Porter disputes the FTC's claim that it has "overwhelming" evidence that Johnson's business iWorks tricked online customers into spending $281 million on bogus Internet services.
"If the FTC truly believes it has overwhelming evidence against these defendants, it should not fear a trial," Porter wrote in an 80-page memorandum in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas.
The FTC filed a motion for summary judgement and a final order in the 3-year-old old civil case last November. It includes thousands of pages of exhibits that the FTC says is "irrefutable evidence" that Johnson and his associates violated federal law.
The FTC alleges iWorks lured customers into "trial" memberships for bogus moneymaking opportunities and government grants for personal expenses. Those who signed up for the "risk-free" offers were repeatedly charged monthly fees and enrolled in other programs without their knowledge, the commission says.
"At the height of the iWorks scam, defendants were making 150,000 sales per week. Defendant Jeremy Johnson received no less than $52 million from this well-oiled fraud machine," according to the FTC.
Porter contends the FTC's characterizations are not true and that the government has a weak case built without relevant witnesses.
"To a great extent, the FTC conflates hyperbole with undisputed evidence. Dismissive pronouncements that the defendants 'bilked' and 'duped' consumers add nothing to the debate," she wrote.Comment on this story
Johnson, who represents himself in the case, has maintained his innocence and has refused to settle with the FTC.
In addition to the civil case, federal prosecutors in Salt Lake City filed an 86-count criminal fraud indictment against Johnson and four former iWorks executives in March.
Johnson, of St. George, embroiled former Attorney General John Swallow in scandal when he claimed in January that Swallow was part of an effort to bribe a U.S. senator in hopes of ending the FTC investigation into iWorks in 2010.
Swallow steadfastly denies any wrongdoing and says Johnson made up the story.
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