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Businessman Jeremy Johnson and four others who worked in his St. George company inched closer to a trial date Tuesday on charges they submitted false information to banks so they could continue to charge consumer credit cards for their online marketing operations.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Paul Warner declined a request by federal prosecutors to set a trial date on the 86 counts faced by each of the five defendants nor would he set a deadline for motions.

But Warner said he might be able to set deadlines or a trial date at the next hearing, on June 3, if by that time defense attorneys have full access to all the evidence gathered by prosecutors.

Warner again expressed frustration that the case has lasted for nearly three years without a trial date, at one point reacting strongly to lead prosecutor Robert Lunnen's assertion that the matter was simple because it revolved around documents used to open credit-card-processing accounts.

"You say it's a simple case but you've produced millions of documents" that defense attorneys will need to examine, Warner said.

Johnson, who is at the center of the scandal engulfing former Utah Attorney General John Swallow, and the other defendants have pleaded not guilty.

Tom Harvey