Businessman mostly cleared in case that toppled Utah lawmen

A Utah businessman who was a helicopter-flying philanthropist before he became a key figure in an influence-peddling scandal that ensnared two former state attorneys general has been convicted of making false statements to banks but cleared of dozens of other charges.

The Salt Lake City jury exonerated Jeremy Johnson of charges including fraud and money laundering. He was arrested five years ago with thousands in cash and a plane ticket to Central America.

He later claimed the state’s top lawman arranged to pay U.S. Sen. Harry Reid to toss the investigation into his Internet business. Prosecutors say the attorney general and his predecessor took gifts such as luxury vacations from Johnson and others.

Reid denies any part of the deal and has never been charged. Both attorneys general have pleaded not guilty to charges including bribery and accepting improper gifts.

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