Businessman accused of fraud wants to be his own lawyer

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SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, who faces Internet fraud charges, says he wants to represent himself at his trial in February.

Federal magistrate judge Paul Warner called the decision stupid and ill-conceived but granted Johnson his request during a hearing this week in Salt Lake City. Warner told Johnson to take the weekend to reconsider, asking for a final decision on Monday.

Johnson told Warner that he had put a great deal of thought into the decision.

This is the third time Johnson has tried to represent himself since he was charged in 2011 by prosecutors who accuse his company of offering bogus government grants online.

He has pleaded not guilty.

Johnson is a central figure in the cases against former Utah attorneys general Mark Shurtleff and John Swallow, who are accused of accepting gifts from him.

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