Senate majority leader Harry Reid has denied any involvement in a deal that would have seen a federal investigation into Utah businessman and philanthropist Jeremy Johnson disappear. Johnson told the Salt Lake Tribune that in 2010 a top official in the Utah attorney general’s office came to an agreement to pay $600k to someone connected to Reid. He then told the same paper that he thought Reid would intervene in the Federal Trade Commission’s investigation into his business.
Kirsten Orthman, a spokesperson for Reid’s office, said the Nevada politician “had no knowledge or involvement” in the case and that allegations saying anything otherwise “are nothing more than innuendo and simply not true”. Johnson was one that invested heavily in Utah’s SunFirst Bank so that it would process online poker transactions for companies indicted on Black Friday. He was arrested on charges of mail fraud on June 11, 2011 whilst trying to flee the country with $26k cash.
Johnson’s current predicament is no closer to a conclusion after a plea bargain, which was supposed to see Johnson plead guilty to the additional charges of bank fraud and money laundering, fell apart. Prosecutors and Johnson disagreed on the terms of agreement and his not guilty plea means that a full trial will take place.
Johnson is famous for allowing Utah authorities access to his personal helicopter so that they could fly search and rescue operations across the state. He once took Black Friday indictee Chad Elie for a ride in the helicopter over a mountain near St George when he pointed out various locations where he had dropped ‘submersible objects’ with “wads of cash” inside.