SALT LAKE CITY (ABC4 Utah) - Jeremy Johnson again is refusing to testify in the John Swallow trial.
Thursday his attorney Mary Corporon relayed that message to the judge overseeing the trial.
Johnson personally invoked the 5th amendment refusing to testify because it may incriminate him.
"I am going to assert my right to not answer any questions," Johnson said on the stand.
And Judge Elizabeth Hruby-Mills responded by sending him back to the Salt Lake County jail.
Johnson is a key witness to the state in its prosecution of the former Utah Attorney General. Swallow is facing numerous felonies and misdemeanors related to bribery and accepting gifts while in office. Johnson claims he paid Swallow money to help make a federal investigation disappear. He also alleges Swallow and his family used his million dollar houseboat on his tab.
Wednesday, Johnson appeared in court and pleaded the 5th and refused to testify claiming it could incriminate him.
Judge Hruby-Mills: "Mr. Johnson I'm ordering you to answer the questions."
Johnson: "I'm sorry but I don't mean to be disrespectful to the court but I don't believe I should answer any questions today."
He was found in contempt and ordered to serve 30 days in the Salt Lake County jail. Johnson is already serving 11-years in federal prison after he was convicted of lying to banks inorder to obtain loans for his St. George business Iworks.
That set the state for another confrontation in district court. Before the trial began, Judge Hruby-Mills asked Corporon if Johnson had changed his mind. But Corporon asked the judge to vacate the contempt order.
"(Jeremy) Johnson will assert the 5th ,(amendment)" said said.
She said it's unclear whether the Department of Justice's (DOJ) letter of immunity would affect other federal cases in different states that Johnson is involved with. She said Nevada may be investigating him.
She called the DOJ letter presented in court Wednesday was "a trap" where he could be prosecuted at a later date. She said the federal government has offered immunity in the past and reneged.
She said federal prosecutors are "hot" to prosecute Johnson for anything they can find.
Corporon told the judge she called Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings Wednesday evening and claimed doesn't think Johnson has immunity. Rawlings granted him immunity in their case against Mark Shurtleff. But Rawlings eventually dismissed charges against the former Utah attorney general.
Knowledge of Rawlings weighing in on the case brought an objectios by the prosecution. Scott Burmester, an assistant Salt Lake District Attorney said Rawlings shouldn't be talking about the case because he may be called in to testify.
"(Rawlings) is acting like a Tasmanian devil, swirling around," Burmester said. "He continues to undermine the state's case."
He said his office is willing to work with Corporon to draft a letter and send it to the DOJ to clarify their grant of "immunity."
"The problem I have is everywhere we turn, no grants of immunity are holding up," Corporon said in court. "If he buys into their position he risks retribution from others."
After meeting with attorneys privately at the bench, Judge Hruby-Mills ordered both sides to work on the letter and report back Thursday afternoon on their progress.
Davis County Attorney Troy Rawlings offered a response shortly after his name was brought up in court.
"In response to multiple media inquiries this morning outlining allegations: I have been informed that yet again today the Salt Lake County District Attorney's Office, via Fred Burmester, makes false allegations against someone. At an appropriate time, after the John Swallow trial, I will respond with documents and evidence.
For some time now, the Salt Lake County DA's Office and federal government have wanted me to ignore both the scope and duties of my appointment as a Special Assistant Utah Attorney General, including a mandate to make determinations on immunity. The granting of immunity, or not, is in the very first paragraph of the
Special Appointment from the Utah Attorney General. The DA's Office clearly prefers I not take that appointment and corresponding duties seriously.
To the DA, I should have hidden this from Jeremy Johnson's counsel after multiple reporters contacted me
yesterday asking for a comment / response to Mr. Johnson invoking the 5th Amendment during trial. To Mr. Burmester, I should have concealed from Mr. Johnson's counsel, and thereby the court, that they need to consider the ramifications of the authority and responsibility granted in the Special Appointment mandate as it
relates to Mr. Johnson, who is a key figure and witness in the larger scope of potential criminality they have asked me to forget about it. It appears they continue to prefer I ignore evidence. It seems clear they prefer I not care about constitutional issues such as due process, speedy trial, the right to confront and cross-examine witnesses based on all required Brady-Giglio evidence and the right to meaningful assistance of
They want me to ignore the fact that to this day, over 3 TB of evidence still cannot be reviewed by the State of Utah or provided to defendant Shurtleff before his trial date came and went due to a massive screw up by the FBI and DA's Office in inexplicably co-mingling tainted material related to communications between John
Swallow and his defense counsel, ending up in the Shurtleff and Lawson discovery.
In their world, none of that seems to matter. Nor does it matter that a plethora of other evidence, such as UTA / Whitewater VII material was not turned over to the State of Utah or defendant Shurtleff [absolutely stunning given Marc Jenson's testimony], nor was the SDNY Poker indictment case that clearly and directly relates to another key witness (Jeremy Johnson himself). In addition to other key categories of material not provided to defendant Shurtleff, we have recently learned of yet another serious example not provided-848 pages of agent notes related to interviews of key witnesses.
Yet the DOJ took the position in pleadings to the Third District Court that they had provided everything, hundreds of thousands of pages. The DA's Office did not dispute that characterization and was frustrated at my pursuit of evidence. If not hiding things from defendants and witnesses, caring about fulfilling my duties
as a Special Assistant Attorney General (including with respect to immunity determinations with key figures) and most importantly my oath to the Constitutions of Utah and the United States makes me a Tasmanian Devil to their agenda, so be it."
Thursday afternoon, Johnson's attorney returned to courtroom but told the judge they were not satisfied with the immunity letter they drafted with the help of the prosecution was unsatisfactory. Attorney Karra Porter said they had problems with the letter and did not meet their goal of protecting Johnson from prosecution in the future.
Porter said there are too many agencies offering different opinions about immunity and claimed only Davis County attorney Rawlings was the only one who could grant immunity. She told the judge Johnson won't be testifying.
Judge Hruby-Mills disagreed and ruled total immunity was granted and compelled Johnson to appear in court and testify. A few minutes later Johnson did so without the jury present. His answer was the same as Wednesday.
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