Feds file 86 new charges against Johnson, associates

Posted at 5:25 PM, Mar 06, 2013
and last updated 2013-03-07 00:22:35-05

SALT LAKE CITY - The U.S. Attorney's Office has filed dozens of new charges against a southern Utah businessman and four of his associates.

Prosecutors say Jeremy Johnson, through his Internet company I Works, fooled customers into giving credit card information to pay shipping for a free compact disc. They say I Works then took those cards and started charging customers monthly.

Banks got so many demands for money back, they blacklisted I Works and Jeremy Johnson with a process called MATCH, or Member Alert to Control High Risk Merchants.

Prosecutors say that instead of fixing their business practices, the defendants used friends and family names to create dummy corporations, and continued fraudulent practices.

Now the U.S. Attorney has filed an indictment with 86 charges against Johnson, I Works and his associates Ryan Riddle, Scott Leavitt, Bryce Payne and Loyd Johnston.

The charges include conspiracy, bank fraud, wire fraud, and money laundering. Most of them are felonies with possible sentences between five and thirty years.

"It was part of the conspiracy that the defendants formed shell companies using company names and company owners other than defendants Jeremy Johnson and I Works," the indictment said.

"...The defendants enlisted about 27 straw owners to form about 300 shell companies."

Johnson gained attention in Utah after saying that Utah Attorney General John Swallow helped broker a deal that attempted to bribe top lawmakers to make those fraud allegations go away.

The new indictment doesn't mention any allegations against Swallow; all of the charges relate to business at I Works before the alleged bribery solicitation of Swallow.