Witness in Swallow/Shurtleff cases won’t be his own lawyer after all

Posted at 11:21 AM, Jul 22, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-22 13:21:08-04

SALT LAKE CITY — A central figure in the political scandal surrounding former Utah Attorneys General John Swallow and Mark Shurtleff will not be acting as his own lawyer at his upcoming fraud trial.

Jeremy Johnson made a brief appearance before a federal judge on Wednesday where he decided against representing himself. U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Warner said he previously suggested to Johnson it was “not a good idea.” Instead, Johnson will have new lawyers: Greg Skordas and his wife, Rebecca Hyde-Skordas.

His September trial date was canceled.

Jeremy Johnson leaves U.S. District Court on Wednesday.

Jeremy Johnson leaves U.S. District Court on Wednesday.

Federal prosecutors have accused Johnson’s company of bilking customers by offering fraudulent services. On Wednesday, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for Utah announced in court it will be seeking a superseding grand jury indictment, narrowing the scope of the case.

Johnson is a key witness in the case against Shurtleff and Swallow. Prosecutors say the two former attorneys general accepted improper gifts from Johnson, including use of his houseboat, plane and luxury home.

Most recently, the Federal Elections Commission has accused Johnson of making illegal campaign contributions to Shurtleff, Sen. Mike Lee, R-Utah, and Sen. Harry Reid, D-Nev.