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Another US Gambling Arrest : Jeremy D. Johnson
Monday June 13, 2011 : Traveller with online gambling connections arrested in Phoenix
An American man with business interests in Costa Rica, who is believed to be a high roller at land casinos and is alleged to have connections with online gambling e-processing, was arrested over the weekend whilst in transit through Phoenix airport.
Federal officials revealed that the man, who was travelling from his home state of Utah to Costa Rica, was detained on allegations of mail fraud, reports the publication Vegas Inc
The U.S. Attorney’s Office in Salt Lake City subsequently identified the man as Jeremy D. Johnson of St. George, Utah, who was arrested by IRS agents.
Johnson is known as a generous benefactor of charities in his home state, but last year he and his companies were sued by the Federal Trade Commission in Las Vegas in what the FTC called a nationwide $289 million Internet scam in which it was claimed that consumers were deceptively enrolled in programs to obtain government grants.
Vegas Inc recaps that as the FTC case in Las Vegas developed, it was revealed Johnson was a high-roller at several Las Vegas land casinos, at one point losing $1.35 million at the Wynn. He was also reputed to be a high stakes online poker player, losing $1.54 million between April and October last year on Full Tilt Poker, had business ties with Las Vegas e-processor Chad Elie (indicted in Black Friday's Internet poker crackdown) and did business with SunFirst Bank in St. George, Utah, whose part owner and vice chairman, John Campos, was indicted in the same federal enforcement poker initiative.
Vegas Inc reports that a U.S. magistrate judge in Utah signed a criminal mail fraud complaint presented by Jamie Hipwell, an IRS criminal investigator assigned to the IRS's Salt Lake City post for the Las Vegas Field Office.
In his affidavit, Hipwell alleged that Johnson – through his companies including I Works Inc. and Elite Debit – used the U.S. mail and false advertising techniques to victimise "hundreds of thousands of consumers."
Hipwell added that besides his activities in Costa Rica, Johnson "has substantial resources in other countries including real estate holdings in Belize and the Philippines."
In a previous Las Vegas civil lawsuit, a federal judge froze Johnson’s assets and appointed a receiver to preserve them. Attorneys appearing for Johnson last month asked the federal court to release these funds to cover Johnson’s living expenses and legal costs.
Opposing the motion, the receiver voiced serious concerns about Johnson’s compliance with the asset freeze and claimed Johnson wasn’t making his assets available for sale to cover losses suffered by consumers in the alleged Internet scam. The receiver also moved to sell some of Johnson's assets.
Attorneys for the FTC joined the motion against Johnson's request, noting: "Johnson’s continuous business relationship with the Vowell brothers – the brothers with whom the Johnson defendants worked to process electronic checks for the online poker entities PokerStars and Full Tilt Poker."
Records in two lawsuits allege that Johnson and Elie have done business with Utah businessmen Jason and Todd Vowell.
Johnson has been upfront about his dealings with the Vowells, on June 1st this year revealing in a court declaration: "I have had numerous business dealings with the Vowells over the last 10-plus years, one of which was that the Vowells provided money transfer services for some of Elite Debit Inc.’s clients.
"Neither the Vowells nor myself have been indicted for bank fraud, money laundering or any other illegal activity. Apparently, the FTC believes it ought to create undue prejudice through guilt by association."
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