SALT LAKE CITY — Indicted Utah businessman Jeremy Johnson is taking his caustic social media fight against what he has called "dirty deeds by big government" to the courts.
Johnson filed a 39-page document in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas late Thursday lambasting the Federal Trade Commission over its lawsuit against him and his once-lucrative Internet enterprise, iWorks.
The filing is a response to an April 15 joint request by government prosecutors in two states — two separate courts — to halt the civil proceedings by the Federal Trade Commission until the Utah criminal case plays out.
Allowing the parties involved in the civil case to continue gathering evidence and witness interviews, prosecutors said, "would wreak havoc with the government's criminal case."
"I've never seen anything like (the prosecution's) motion in my 25 years of practice," said Karra Porter, the attorney representing iWorks in the Nevada Case.
"The federal government can't just come in and stay civil cases in other states without having a really, really good reason," she said. "I don't think that they have offered one."
Acting as his own lawyer in the civil case, Johnson has made official court evidence in his Thursday filing what had previously been fodder on social media sites like YouTube and Twitter.
In the document, Johnson alleges:
- false representation to a judge to obtain an arrest warrant, and that
- while in jail, Johnson was threatened with lockdown if he didn't comply with an FTC prosecutor's phone call.
Johnson also accuses investigators of using threats, bribery, extortion, forgery and manipulation of judges to build their case. An affidavit from former iWorks employee Devan Partridge states: "The testimony that the FTC wrote for me and gave to the judge was not the testimony that I would have written or that I would have given had I been speaking to the judge one on one."
Claiming misconduct is a bold move by Johnson and his fellow defendants. It's likely to provoke a strong response from the government, both in the civil case in Nevada and the criminal case here in Utah.
The government will have a chance to answer Johnson's claims on May 16.
Contributing: Jordan Ormond