Trial for Jeremy Johnson gets underway Monday

Posted at 12:59 PM, Feb 08, 2016
and last updated 2016-02-08 19:22:53-05

SALT LAKE CITY – A jury trial for Jeremy Johnson, who faces numerous counts of fraud, conspiracy and money laundering, began Monday.

Johnson emerged as a key figure in the corruption case against Utah Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow after telling reporters Swallow solicited bribes from him.

The charges in this case against the owner of iWorks were first filed five years ago, and prosecutors allege Johnson made millions of dollars through actions revolving around bank fraud.

Last month, Johnson decided to represent himself in the trial.

When asked why he wanted to act as his own attorney, Johnson previously replied: “I'd love to tell you guys, really I would. I'd love to talk about it and everything else, but I've been warned multiple times.”

Outside of court Monday, Johnson said he'd love to talk about the case but is prevented from doing so due to a judge's gag order.

"Frustrated: Reporters are asking me questions I can't answer," Johnson said with a laugh outside of court.

During Monday's proceedings, prosecutors called upon a Visa accounts expert, who testified that Johnson's company saw an "extreme amount" of charge backs. Charge backs occur when a customer feels like they have been wrongly charged, either due to a mistake or an act of fraud.

Prosecutors allege that when Visa approached Johnson about the potentially fraudulent activity, the defendants skirted the issue by creating shell companies under the names of friends and family to mislead banks into thinking they were dealing with a different business.

While Johnson is representing himself, Judge Paul Warner asked Johnson’s former lawyer, Greg Skordas, to standby at the trial, telling Johnson: "He can assist you by advising and counseling and discussing issues with you. He will be here at trial with you, but he will not be the one to stand up and make an opening statement, he will not be the one to question witnesses, he will not make objections. Do you understand that?"

FOX 13 News will be following the trial as it continues, check back online and watch FOX 13 for updates.