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During closing arguments, Jeremy Johnson asks jury to send him home

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Posted at 7:03 PM, Mar 18, 2016
and last updated 2016-03-18 23:48:55-04

SALT LAKE CITY, Utah – St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson pleaded with jury members Friday to let him go home.

Johnson is representing himself in the federal case against him. During closing arguments, he said he’s waited five years to talk to the jury, claiming they’re the reason he hasn’t already been convicted.

“You’re the only thing that stands between us and completely destroyed lives,” Johnson said.

Johnson and two other defendants, Ryan Riddle and Scott Leavitt, face 86 counts of bank fraud, wire fraud, conspiracy and money laundering. Prosecutors claim the offenses were carried out through their company iWorks.

The management set up 281 merchant accounts to run credit cards. The move, they said, came after their company’s main account was terminated for excessive chargebacks.

Johnson claims they did it under the advice and help of bankers to save their company. He said federal prosecutors are hinging their case on one email that seems to indicate managers were trying to hide the fact the accounts were associated with iWorks.

“The government would have you believe it was a conspiracy,” Johnson said to jurors. “That [the banks] did not know. That’s not true.”

During rebuttal, US attorney Robert Lunnen argued the defendants are trying to blame their problems on other people.

“Somehow this is about everyone’s fault accept the defendants,” Lunnen said. “Just because someone tells you to lie, doesn’t mean you should.”

The 12-person jury began deliberations just after 10 a.m. Friday. A verdict may not come back until next week.