Known for years as a philanthropist both in his own community and internationally, St. George local businessman Jeremy Johnson will face a four-week trial in the first quarter of next year. His indictment would suggest that there are more sinister dealings to his transactions than the generous relief missions he flew to Haiti after the 2010 earthquake or the numerous search and rescue efforts conducted in his private aircraft to assist local authorities as they looked for the “lost boys” that were kicked out of their homes in the polygamous communities of Hilldale and Colorado City. This article in The Spectrum outlines how Johnson allegedly managed to swindle millions of dollars from thousands of victims, which would explain why he is now on the hook for almost as much in Salt Lake City white collar criminal defense costs.
Johnson is facing no less than 86 criminal charges, which are shared with four co-workers—up from just an original three in 2011 for fraud and money laundering. Beginning with a civil suit in Las Vegas, Johnson’s legal troubles have skyrocketed as his company iWorks has been accused of using the Internet to “fraudulently enroll millions of people in get-rich schemes by charging their credit cards without authorization.” His Salt Lake City white collar criminal defense lawyers purport that the actions of iWorks weren’t fraudulent, and that Johnson’s company “used a standard reverse marketing strategy legally employed by a wide variety of businesses, offering goods or services on a trial basis and charging customers if they didn’t ask to cancel the product.”
But some of his statements don’t add up, according to Johnson’s prosecutors. Numerous customers did ask for their money back, and a long string of “phony shell companies under figurehead management (business “fronts” for iWorks)” were created to get credit card companies to continue processing payments even after charge-back concerns surfaced and relationships between iWorks and banks began breaking down.
Part of Johnson’s woes began because he had originally eschewed any and all Salt Lake City white collar criminal defense assistance—yep, the guy was trying to negotiate all the court processes without the help of an attorney. He claimed this was due to an asset freeze placed on his property, which was then auctioned off to the public in an attempt to repay an alleged $350 million to iWorks victims, but in reality, “the money thus far has mainly been devoted to paying the prosecution’s legal and investigation teams.”
Johnson finally lawyered up, to his avail, with some good ole Salt Lake City white collar criminal defense strategies when he was arrested on criminal charges at a Phoenix airport en route to Central America. Sound suspicious, anyone? Not willing to go down alone, however, it was Johnson who provided information to the media that eventually resulted in the investigation leading to the criminal charges of former Utah Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow “on allegations that they accepted money and gifts to influence their roles in public office.”
So now we know at least it’s not just businessmen getting their fingers dirty. The government isn’t clean, either.