The plea deal unraveled when Johnson, responding to Nuffer's questions, said he had agreed to plead guilty after prosecutors backed away from threats to indict his family, friends and business associates. Then Johnson produced two lists of people whom he said prosecutors had promised not to indict and that the judge wanted to make part of the official record. Prosecutors agreed to the first list, which had been part of their PowerPoint presentation to Johnson and his attorney, but they apparently balked at the second, which contained the name of new Utah Attorney General John Swallow.
Johnson has alleged, at times, that Swallow, while working as the state's chief deputy attorney general, helped broker payoffs to enlist the aid of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in derailing a Federal Trade Commission investigation of Johnson's I Works business.
Swallow and Reid have denied the allegations. The U.S. Attorney's Office is investigating.
The FTC first sued Johnson and I Works in December 2010, alleging the company baited online consumers with small fees for products such as a CD on how to get government grants for personal expenses and then charged their credit or debit cards unauthorized monthly fees.
Johnson then was charged in June 2011 with felony mail fraud stemming from his operation of I Works. Prosecutors said new charges would be forthcoming with the failure of the plea deal, which had included two new charges and the dropping of the original indictment.