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Swallow tried to set up business deals while in A.G.'s office, email shows

Published May 31, 2013 5:37 pm

This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated.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.

John Swallow continued to try to broker business deals — even after he became Utah's chief deputy attorney general — that involved his former payday-loan employer and St. George businessman Jeremy Johnson, according to court documents filed Thursday.

In a filing in federal court in Las Vegas, Johnson posted a copy of a 2010 email to him from Swallow, who became Utah's attorney general in January, in which Swallow appears to be trying to play dealmaker between Johnson and payday-loan operator Richard Rawle.

"BTW, and please keep this confidential, but I have not heard much from Aaron on the payday project and I hear that the Cash for Gold opportunity is getting close," Swallow says in the Feb. 13, 2010, email to Johnson.

Swallow goes on to praise Rawle, who is now deceased, and his Provo-based Check City chain and vouches that the company will provide honest prices for "leads" — information on potential customers of Johnson's I Works online-marketing company.

Since that email, Johnson and I Works have been sued by the Federal Trade Commission in federal court in Las Vegas on allegations he cheated consumers out of millions of dollars. He and four associates have been indicted on 86 criminal charges related to I Works.

Swallow's attorney, Rod Snow, said that the email is being misrepresented. While he was legal counsel for Check City, Swallow was involved in talks of whether to involve Johnson's online marketing experience in Rawle's payday lending and cash-for-gold businesses. The deals never materialized.

"He didn't get paid for this," Snow said. "He was allowed when he joined [the attorney general's office] to finish up matters he was working on and I think that's what he was trying to do here."

The filing in the Nevada case, in which Johnson is representing himself, came in response to one by federal prosecutors in Utah who are asking the judge there to shut down most of the civil case until the criminal action wraps up.

A hearing is set for Monday in Las Vegas.

Prosecutors have accused Johnson of trying to use the civil proceedings to try to influence and intimidate potential witnesses in the criminal case. Johnson filed the Swallow email as part of his argument that he should be allowed to take a deposition from Swallow. Johnson claims Swallow had intimate knowledge of I Works and believed its business practices were legitimate.