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Imprisoned St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson is prepared to say former Utah Attorney General John Swallow was not involved in any alleged illegal bundling of campaign contributions to former Attorney General Mark Shurtleff and Sens. Mike Lee and Harry Reid.
Swallow's attorney, Scott C. Williams, made that claim in a document filed Tuesday in a Federal Elections Commission lawsuit in federal court in Salt Lake City against Johnson and Swallow.
The 2015 lawsuit alleges that Johnson could make contributions to candidates for federal offices in 2009 and 2010 that exceeded the $2,400 legal limit by providing funds to others who would then donate in their names.
Johnson contributed some $100,000 to Shurtleff, who was a candidate for the U.S. Senate for a time, and about $50,000 to Lee's subsequent Senate campaign, as well as $20,000 to then-Senate Majority Leader Reid, who is now retired.
Johnson used straw donors to contribute to Shurtleff's and Lee's campaigns at the request of Swallow, the FEC alleges.
Johnson, who is serving an 11-year sentence on his federal conviction of making false statements to a bank, has said he made the claim about Swallow after he had been promised by state and federal investigators that his statements would kept confidential. Instead, Utah Department of Public Safety investigator Scott Nesbitt, who participated in interviews with Johnson, disclosed that information to the FEC without authorization, court documents say.
Now, Williams said in his court filing that, "Johnson will deny that Mr. Swallow aided, abetted or otherwise engaged in any activity upon which the FEC bases it claims."
Instead, Johnson will say previous statements "are unreliable, and how he was incentivized to make them by promises of leniency, anonymity, and other actions in return for such statements."
Johnson was told his statements would not be provided to the FEC, but was "ultimately betrayed," Williams wrote.
Earlier this month, Swallow was acquitted by a 3rd District Court jury of nine charges related to allegations of public corruption.
Johnson was scheduled as a star witness for the prosecution but refused to testify, citing his constitutional right against self-incrimination and his distrust of federal authorities.
Williams said during Swallow's trial that, based on his conversations, he believed Johnson's testimony would be more helpful to the defense than to the prosecution.
Johnson, who was sentenced to 30 days in the Salt Lake County jail for his refusal to testify against Swallow, is serving his federal sentence for making false statements to a bank at a low-security prison in California.
Neither Williams nor Johnson's attorneys replied to messages seeking comment.