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Jeremy Johnson associate busted on federal pot charge

Published March 2, 2013 7:06 pm

Crime • A second businessman is also nabbed in alleged plot.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

An associate and neighbor of indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson has been arrested on allegations he conspired to distribute a large quantity of marijuana.

Jason T. Vowell was arrested Thursday in St. George by agents of the Drug Enforcement Administration.

Arrested at almost the same time was Chris Sunyich, a member of a family sued in January for allegedly charging consumers' credit cards without their approval or knowledge.

Warrants out of Tampa, Fla., say that the two men have been indicted on charges of conspiracy to distribute 100 kilos or more of marijuana and aiding and abetting in the possession of pot.

"In addition to the arrests, over $160,000 was seized in St. George as well as a twin-engine airplane belonging to Vowell, and that was seized last month," said Sue Thomas, the DEA's supervisory special agent in Utah.

Thomas said Saturday she had no more information on the case, which originated from Tampa.

Vowell had participated in businesses with Johnson that processed online-poker payments. The outfits operated for about a year until they stopped doing so in 2010.

Vowell and brother Todd Vowell also are accused with Johnson in a Federal Trade Commission lawsuit. The court-appointed receiver in that case involving Johnson's I Works company alleges the Vowells helped Johnson hide millions of dollars in assets. Johnson denies the claims.

Sunyich, his father, Steve, and siblings were recently sued by the FTC for an alleged scheme in which they bought consumers' information — including credit card numbers from payday-loan companies — and then began charging monthly fees without authorization.

Steve Sunyich denies those allegations.

tharvey@sltrib.com

Twitter: @TomHarveySltrib —

Johnson's claim

Indicted St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson says new Utah Attorney General John Swallow helped broker payoffs to enlist the aid of Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid in derailing a Federal Trade Commission investigation of Johnson's I Works business. Swallow and Reid deny the claims. The U.S. Attorney's Office is investigating.