St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson released from prison

In this 2017 file photo, Jeremy Johnson declines to testify in former Utah Attorney General John Swallow's corruption trial, Salt Lake City, Feb. 15, 2017 | Photo courtesy of Fox 13 News, St. George News

ST. GEORGE — A St. George businessman who spent several years in prison has returned home.

Sources confirm Jeremy Johnson has been released, and he announced his return in a Facebook post Friday evening.

The rumors are true! So so so happy to be home.

Posted by Jeremy Johnson on Friday, May 22, 2020

The U.S. District Court in Utah sentenced Johnson to serve 11 years in prison in 2016 after a jury of eight found him guilty of eight charges of making false statements to a bank. He was acquitted of 78 other charges related to fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. In April 2018, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals shot down the 135-month sentence, and he was later resentenced to serve 87 months instead.

The charges Johnson was convicted on stem from a Federal Trade Commission investigation into his online marketing company that sold information on how to apply for federal grants and other moneymaking possibilities. When the company began to experience a high level of  people demanding refunds in the form of credit chargebacks, it was placed on a warning list advising banks not to do business with the company.

Federal prosecutors said Johnson and the others attempted to get around this by creating shell companies using the names of employees, friends and family members in order to create the new accounts.

Prior to his conviction, Johnson accused federal prosecutors and regulation of government abuses, which led to the court putting Johnson under a gag order.

Jeremy Johnson, July 2015 | Photo courtesy of Facebook, St. George News

Johnson’s lawyers accused federal prosecutors of threatening friends and family with indictments if he didn’t accept a plea deal. A motion to have the case dismissed due to alleged prosecutorial misconduct was also filed and denied by U.S. District Judge David Nuffer, who presided over the case.

Johnson’s name has also become synonymous with one of the state’s biggest political scandals in recent years involving former Utah Attorneys General Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow.

Johnson alleged that Swallow was going to arrange a bribe of then-U.S. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid, D-Nevada, on behalf of the St. George businessman. Allegedly, it was hoped the Nevada senator would use his influence to get the FTC off Johnson’s back.

The accusations triggered multiple investigations into Shurtleff’s and Swallow’s conduct and led to accusations of both men asking for gifts and donations from people who were facing investigation by the Utah Attorney General’s Office. The scandal ultimately led Swallow to resign as the attorney general after barely a year in office.

Charges against Shurtleff were dropped in 2016, while a jury declared Swallow innocent of corruption charges in 2017.

This is a developing story.

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2020, all rights reserved.

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