St. George man headed to trial in fraud case

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SALT LAKE CITY - A St. George man who first gained attention for his philanthropic efforts did not accept a plea deal Friday on fraud charges. The case will go to trial.

Jeremy Johnson is accused of writing a bad check for $100,000 last year to Wynn Las Vegas Hotel and Casino.

Johnson earned millions with his Internet company I Works, which supposedly used the web to make money. But prosecutors say he built his fortune by tricking customers into making regular advance payments.

U.S. attorneys and Johnson seemed poised to make a plea deal for mail fraud that would send him to jail to ten years and provide immunity for a list of people he wanted protected, a list that could include some high-profile Utahns.

Johnson claims that he was planning to go to trial until the government started to threaten some of his associates, forcing him to make a deal. The U.S. Attorney's Office in Utah denies those threats.

The deal fell apart in court on Friday and now Johnson is set to go to trial.

"I'm not going to go into any further discussion about comments that were made. We had a change of plea scheduled. It didn't happen. Further proceedings are set," said Nathan Crane, Johnson's defense attorney.

The judge set a new hearing date for Feb. 22.