ST. GEORGE – Although planning to file an appeal in the matter, St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson said Friday he is pleased with the jury verdict handed down in Salt Lake City’s federal court Friday morning following a six-week criminal trial that centered on allegations of bank fraud.
“I am pleased with the verdict,” Johnson told St. George News, “and I feel that the jury did the best that they could with the evidence they were allowed to see and how they were instructed to apply the law.”
After acting as his own attorney during the trial, Johnson said he considers today a victory.
“The government was handed a stunning defeat today as the jury found us not guilty on all charges of fraud and any charge where intent was a factor,” he said.
Of the 86 charges filed against the online entrepreneur, the jury of nine men and three women found Johnson guilty on only a handful of charges: eight counts of making false statements to a bank.
The jury returned a verdict of not guilty on 78 charges, including one count of conspiracy, two counts of making false statements to a bank, 13 counts of bank fraud, 23 counts of wire fraud, nine counts of participating in fraudulent banking activities, two counts of conspiracy to commit money laundering and 30 counts of money laundering.
Johnson said he was not surprised by the jury’s verdict, adding that if the jury had been allowed to have all of the evidence in the case, they would have found him not guilty on all charges.
When asked if he felt like he received a fair trial, Johnson said: “I do not believe the trial was fair as the jury was kept from hearing the evidence and testimony that would have shown no false statements were made to any bank.”
Johnson said the charge of making false statements to a bank that he was convicted of Friday morning does not require intent or that he even made any false statement, just that he knew or should have known a false statement was made.
The problem with that, Johnson said, is that no false statements were made.
“The merchant applications the jury relied on were not bank applications as the government argued they were,” Johnson said.
Witnesses from the bank were prepared to testify that what the government had portrayed during the trial as bank applications were not actual bank applications, he said, and that there were no false statements on the applications.
“The government was successful in keeping them from testifying,” Johnson said. “They were also successful in keeping the recordings of the bank conversations from the jury as well.”
Johnson referred specifically to a transcript of an audio conversation (Exhibit 1) Johnson had with Wells Fargo representatives several years ago asking about the applications.
“This was evidence the government was able to keep from the jury … ,” Johnson said. “The truth is that we filled out everything on the application just as we were instructed by Cardflex and as you can see the bank confirms that it’s not a bank application.”
Meaning, Johnson said, no false statement to the bank. Johnson said he plans to appeal the conviction.
When asked what it was like representing himself in federal court, Johnson said: “ … It was hell and I would never recommend that someone represent themselves when they have the ability to have a good attorney represent them.”
- Exhibit 1 – transcript of audio conversation with Wells Fargo Bank
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