Las Vegas judge freezes assets of Utah businessman in fraud case
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* See the court order against Johnson

A federal judge in Las Vegas has frozen the assets of St. George, Utah, businessman Jeremy Johnson and scores of associated companies -- a freeze giving the Federal Trade Commission a chance to seize the assets for the benefit of consumers allegedly defrauded by Johnson and the companies.

A lengthy temporary restraining order freezing the assets of Johnson and associated companies was secretly issued Jan. 13 by U.S. District Judge Kent Dawson. It was unsealed Tuesday.

Dawson also appointed Robb Evans of Robb Evans and Associates LLC as temporary receiver to supervise the corporate defendants sued by the FTC and the assets of Johnson.

Robb Evans' company says it has offices in Los Angeles, Las Vegas and Greenwich, Conn., and for years has been involved with supervising enterprises upon appointments suggested by the U.S. Department of Justice, the Securities and Exchange Commission, the state of California Department of Financial Institutions and the FTC.

It also worked with lenders and creditors to collect delinquent obligations.

Johnson and the corporate defendants were ordered to provide an accounting of their assets and finances to the temporary receiver.

The FTC claims Johnson and his companies including I Works and Elite Debit scammed consumers out of $275 million by luring them into obtaining trial memberships for bogus services and then repeatedly charging their credit and debit cards monthly fees for the worthless services.

Johnson has denied those allegations.

"There is good cause to believe that irreparable damage to the court's ability to grant effective final relief for consumers in the form or monetary redress will occur from the sale, transfer or other disposition or concealment by Jeremy Johnson and the corporate defendants of assets or records unless Jeremy Johnson and the corporate defendants are immediately restrained and enjoined by order of this court," Dawson's ruling said.
Originally published Tuesday, Jan. 18, 2011