Friday February 1,2013 : NEVADA SENATOR CAUGHT UP IN BRIBERY ALLEGATIONS
Claims that Reid was bribed to push through federal online poker bill
A rather dubious source – the indicted iWorks marketing fraudster and SunFirst Bank online poker payment processor Jeremy Johnson – has done little to halt allegations of questionable conduct and bribery against Nevada Senator and influential Washington politician Harry Reid this week.
The mainstream media are carrying Johnson's claims, backed by a long audio recording alleged to have been made when Johnson had a coffee shop discussion with Utah Attorney General John Swallow, who has vehemently denied the allegations made by Johnson against him.
The tape dates back to April 2012; in it, Johnson admits that he was embroiled in a scheme to pay $1 million to Reid in return for the Senator's cooperation in getting an online poker legalization bill through Congress. Allegedly this was at the behest of the former Full Tilt Poker management.
Johnson also claims that Swallow, who has only recently been elected to his post, was implicated in another Johnson deal which sought to channel bribes to Reid in the hopes of killing a Federal Trade Commission investigation into Johnson and his iWorks company.
On the tape, in response to a question from Swallow, Johnson relates the story of a meeting he attended last year with Reid, former Full Tilt boss Ray Bitar and John Pappas, executive director of the Poker Players Alliance.
In the meeting Reid allegedly said he would introduce a federal online poker legalization bill to Congress despite opposition from some of his ‘constituents'.
Immediately following the meeting, Johnson claims that he asked one of Bitar's companions how they had managed to persuade the Senator to agree to an online poker bill. He was told that the Senator would receive a ‘contribution to his pension fund'.
Johnson then claims on the tape that barely a week later he was asked to draw an untraceable one million dollar cashiers cheque on Sun First Bank's general account. He was not told who the money was for, and he professes ignorance on that point, although as a result of the previous week's meeting he had suspicions. This leads to him concluding on the tape:
"So, I believed… this is my belief: I believe Reid genuinely is on the take. I believe he’s getting money for deals all over hell because he’s got so much influence. And I believe they’re onto him."
Lending some credibility to some sort of relationship between Johnson, Reid and Full Tilt Poker, convicted e-cash processor Chad Elie independently published a photo of Johnson, Pappas and Reid together last year at a function, along with Full Tilt executives.
Pappas has denied involvement in any improper dealings, and details of how the million dollar bribe was effected in practical terms have not been clarified, leaving the Johnson accusations and suspicions unsubstantiated. Nevertheless, the accusations have resulted in growing media coverage of the affair, especially in Utah.
Indicating the gravity with which Swallow is treating Johnson's claims, the US Attorney's office in Utah has asked for an injunction against Johnson to prevent further accusations being made, claiming these are deliberate attempts to discredit elected officials involved in investigations into Johnson's business activities.