BULLETIN: Federal Judge Orders Jeremy Johnson And Others Acting On His Behalf To Disable Website That Used Court-Appointed Receiver’s Name And Described Firm As Workplace Of ‘Thieves’ And ‘Crooks’
EDITOR’S NOTE: This story originally was published Jan. 9, 2012, 3:01 p.m. It was updated at 5:01 p.m. on the same date. The PP Blog temporarily “unpublished” the story on March 23, 2012. Explanation of why it was taken offline temporarily is here. On March 23, 2012, the PP Blog’s security software recorded a “mass injection attack” as the Blog visited a domain styled CollotGuerard.com while researching matters pertaining to Jeremy Johnson. Collot Guerard is an attorney for the FTC and an alleged subject of harassment by Johnson or people close to Johnson because of the FTC actions against Johnson. The PPBlog is not revisiting the CollotGuerard.com domain and believes it is imprudent for readers to visit the domain.
Our Jan. 9, 2012, story was republished below on Jan. 15, 2013 . . .
A federal judge in Nevada has ordered Jeremy Johnson and others acting on his behalf to disable a website that used the name of a court-appointed receiver in its domain root and painted the receiver and his firm as “Thieves,” “Lairs” (sic) and “Crooks.”
An attorney for Robb Evans, the receiver in the Johnson/IWorks fraud case brought by the FTC in 2010 and the namesake of California-based Robb Evans & Associates, petitioned Chief Judge Roger L. Hunt in a Dec. 14 emergency motion to order the site taken offline. Hunt issued the order to disable the site on Friday, according to the docket of the case. The domain was styled “RobbEvansFraud.com.”
The order also applies to sites that use “any variation of the receiver’s name,” according to the docket. Through his attorney, Evans claimed that Johnson and others were violating a court order, confusing the public and undermining the receivership estate by registering a domain name in the receiver’s name.
Evans and his firm are fiduciaries in numerous cases and have well-established bona fides. Evans himself rose to national prominence as one of the liquidators in the infamous Bank of Credit and Commerce International (BCCI) case in the 1990s, earning plaudits from U.S. District Judge Joyce Hens Green for his efforts to recover funds for victims of BCCI’s massive international fraud.
Hunt also ordered Johnson to “cease and desist” from using email addresses that used the name of the Federal Trade Commission. The FTC claimed last month that Johnson, accused alongside IWorks Inc. and scores of defendants in December 2010 in an alleged fraud scheme involving hundreds of millions of dollars, had registered numerous domain names that used the FTC’s name.
The domain names allegedly were purchased in the fall of 2011, approaching a year after the FTC brought the Johnson/IWorks case.
Johnson and others also registered domain names in the names of individual FTC attorneys involved in the Johnson/IWorks case, according to the FTC. Although Hunt did not ban such domain registrations that used the name of the FTC or its attorneys, he warned both Johnson and the FTC that contempt was a remedy if there was no “good faith” effort to resolve the domain-name issue, according to the court docket.
The FTC last week declined to comment on the domain-name dispute. In court filings, it has argued that the domain registrations and email addresses could confuse the public and cause harm.
In court filings, the FTC claimed that at least one of the domains was used to harass Collot Guerard, a longtime FTC attorney and member of the District of Columbia Bar since 1973. A site that used her name now appears to have been taken offline. Although the domain continues to resolve to a server, content the FTC deemed harassing in nature appears to have vanished.
Guerard and Evans also were derided in ads someone placed on Google, according to last month’s emergency motions. Those ads appear to have been removed. The identity of the person or company that placed them is unclear.
Recent developments in the FTC’s action against Johnson and other IWorks defendants have led to questions about where free speech ends and harassment begins. The developments also have led to questions about whether government employees at any level could become the subjects of attacks and harassment campaigns through instances in which defendants “fight back” by buying up domain names in the names of their accusers and placing ads that describe their accusers as criminals.
Other than self-restraint, there appear to be few obstacles to prevent a defendant from registering a domain name in the name of his or her prosecutor or accuser and perhaps even driving traffic to the sites by purchasing ads that use highly suggestive language or make an outright claim that the public employee is a crook.
An ad that appeared on Google described Guerard as “corrupt.” A separate ad described Evans, the receiver, as a fraudster. Both Guerard and Evans have had roles in the Johnson/IWorks case.
Johnson has denied wrongdoing.