The U.S. Attorney's Office for Utah has asked the judge in the Nevada case to restrict Johnson and co-defendants from interviewing witnesses in the lawsuit until the criminal action wraps up.
Johnson and other defendants have argued that would deny them their right to battle the FTC, which persuaded the court when the suit was filed in December 2010 to freeze all their assets along with those of Johnson's online marketing company I Works.
But in a reply filed late Monday, assistant U.S. Attorney Jeannette Swent said that in representing himself Johnson already was intimidating people involved in the civil case who were potential witnesses in the criminal matter, including a former I Works employee named Devan Partridge.
"Jeremy Johnson used the threat of a deposition subpoena, among other tactics, to threaten and intimidate Devan Partridge and to influence his testimony," Swent wrote.
Johnson has even tried to subpoena Swallow for a deposition, though the attorney general "seems entirely irrelevant to the civil case," Swent wrote. "Mr. Johnson may believe that Mr. Swallow's testimony is relevant to the criminal case, but he should not be allowed to use civil discovery to build his criminal defense."
Johnson, who is under a judge's admonition not to talk to the news media, declined comment.
But in a December 2012 email exchange with Swallow's attorney, Rod Snow, regarding a possible affidavit from Swallow about I Works, Johnson wrote: "John was very familiar with I Works and myself as its owner."
Johnson has embroiled Swallow in an ongoing scandal by accusing him of helping to broker payoffs to enlist the aid of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in blunting the FTC probe of I Works. Swallow has said he only connected Johnson with another businessman with experience in lobbying in Washington.
In opposing prosecutors' efforts to halt most evidence gathering in the Nevada lawsuit, Johnson also accused assistant U.S. Attorney Brent Ward, the chief prosecutor in his criminal case, of agreeing to protect Swallow from prosecution as part of a plea deal that eventually unraveled. Johnson said Ward was a friend and political supporter of Swallow.
Those claims are "spuriously" offered, the government argued, and Johnson has told the news media that prosecutors, in fact, had refused to offer protection to Swallow. The Justice Department is investigating Swallow.
A hearing on the government's motion is set for June 3 in Las Vegas. firstname.lastname@example.org
Join us for a Trib Talk chat
Reporters Robert Gehrke and Tom Harvey will join Trib Talk host Jennifer Napier-Pearce for a behind-the-scenes look at the ethics controversy involving Utah Attorney General John Swallow and former AG Mark Shurtleff. Visit sltrib. com Tuesday at 11 a.m. for the live video chat.