SALT LAKE CITY — St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson wants a federal judge to let him use some of the millions of dollars the government seized from him to hire a lawyer.
In an emergency motion filed in U.S. District Court in Las Vegas, Johnson argues that he doesn't have the means or the legal expertise to know what evidence he should and shouldn't give the Federal Trade Commission.
"The FTC knows full well I do not have the ability or the knowledge to review the tens of thousands of documents required to fill their documents request," Johnson wrote. "Therefore, if I want to use any of the documents for my defense, I must forgo any rights I have and turn over all the documents to the government."
Federal prosecutors, he said, intend to object to any document for his defense that he doesn't provide them. Johnson said that leaves him to decide whether to use important records or give up his right against self-incrimination.
The FTC began taking millions of dollars in Johnson's assets shortly after it filed a civil complaint against him and his Internet sales company in December 2010. A court-appointed receiver maintains the cash and has sold many of Johnson's possessions. The FTC alleges Johnson bilked millions of customers with bogus offers for government grants.
Johnson, who represents himself in the case, contends the asset freeze robbed him of his right to a lawyer. He has a court-appointed attorney in the parallel criminal case against him, but said the lawyer can’t review the documents because he hasn't been paid and the court ran out of money for public defenders.
"The situation is ironic because the receiver has millions of dollars in cash in the bank even aside from the millions he has paid himself, and yet I am in peril because I have no way to hire someone with legal expertise to review and produce the documents," he wrote.
Johnson also wants more time go over the documents before giving them to the FTC.
The judge has not yet ruled on his motion.