ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here

Sirens & Gavels

Posts tagged: cocaine

Man nets 2nd police chase in 3 weeks

A Spokane man arrested at gunpoint after a police chase three weeks ago was picked up again Tuesday morning after another chase with law enforcement.

 A profusely sweaty Michael S. Wheeler, 38, was taken to a hospital after he told a sheriff's deputy he had eaten an unknown amount of cocaine when he was arrested near Argonne and Bruce roads, according to the Spokane County Sheriff's Office.

Deputy Ryan Truman tried to stop Wheeler after spotting he and his passenger “frantically” moving and reaching under the front seats when he approached their parked Jeep Cherokee just north of Hastings Road about 4:30 a.m.

Truman noted a damaged steering column and a punched ignition with a screwdriver sitting on the vehicle's center console. Dispatch reported the car was stolen, and Truman ordered an already “very agitated” Wheeler and passenger Jamie Burdeau, 22, out of the vehicle, the sheriff's office said.

Wheeler instead put the Jeep in reverse and struck a shed, fence and a “junk car” as he fled, officials say. Truman and other deputies found the Jeep abandoned in the area of 3rd Avenue and Railroad Street in Mead. Burdeau was spotted walking near the vehicle and told deputies Wheeler had run east. She later said she and Wheeler had been waiting for a meth dealer when Truman approached them, the sheriff's office said.

A Spokane police K-9 found Wheeler's gray hooded sweatshirt near the Jeep.  Patrol officers found Wheeler at Argonne and Bruce roads, where he was arrested for possession of a stolen vehicle and felony eluding. Burdeau was arrested on a charge of possession of a stolen vehicle.

Wheeler also faces a third-degree assault charge for allegedly striking a security guard at Holy Family Hospital while running from sheriff's deputies. Deputies said Wheeler ran from them after saying “Have you ever been to jail? It sucks,” according to court records. Wheeler was shocked with a Taser as he struggled to get away from the deputies.

Wheeler was arrested May 3 after a high-speed chase with a state wildlife officer in a stolen car while high on methamphetamine, according to court documents. He was released from jail when prosecutors didn't file charges within three days.

Wheeler also was wanted by Crime Stoppers when he rammed a sheriff’s patrol car in December 2010 while successfully eluding a deputy. Read more here.

3 busted near border w/ 58 lbs of coke

Three suspected drug smugglers have been arrested near the U.S.-Canadian border in Pend Oreille County with 58 pounds of cocaine.

Jose Daniel Gonzalez-Rodriguez, 26, and Jose Luis Alfredo Castro-Meji, 25, were booked into the Spokane County Jail early today after being arrested near Metaline Falls late Monday.

Border agents tracked down a third suspect, Jose Galicias, in the woods this afternoon, according to the U.S. Border Patrol.

Gonzalez-Rodriguez and Castro-Meji appeared in U.S. District Court today and were ordered to remain in jail.

Officials valued the cocaine at $585,860.

As this story explains, cocaine is often smuggled through Eastern Washington in exchange for Ecstasy and marijuana from Canada.

In October 2010, border agents found 310 pounds of Ecstasy worth more than $9.3 million near Curlew. A month before, a Canadian man caught with 71 pounds of cocaine near the international border was sentenced to about four years in prison.

In June 2010, a Canadian man arrested in Washington with 80 pounds of cocaine was sentenced to five years in prison.

Then in June 2011, two Canadian men were arrested with 159 pounds of Ecstasy that authorities allege they were trying to smuggle into the United States. Those men are awaiting trial.

Also awaiting trial is an elderly man who lived near the Canadian border in Ferry County and is accused of being a major drug trafficker.

2 sentenced in CdA bar cocaine case

A Coeur d'Alene man involved in a large cocaine distribution ring that was based in part out of a Sherman Avenue bar has been sentenced to four years in prison. 

Christopher McFarland, 49, (left) also is to be on probation for five years and has forfeited his ownership interest in the bar.

McFarland worked with James Roy “Slim” O'Neill, who was sentenced in April 2011 to 15 years in prison.

O'Neill's wife, Lecia Donita O'Neill, 46, (right) , also was sentenced Monday to a year and a day in prison, followed by ten months of home confinement and eight years of probation.

 The sentencings in U.S. District Court close a case that began with arrests in May 2010.

“Slim” O'Neill, 50, (left) was the kingpin of a cocaine distribution ring that supplied the drug in North Idaho for at least a decade and operated partly out of Chillers bar on Sherman Avenue near South 20th Street.

O'Neill also grew marijuana near Mineral Ridge, a popular hiking area with a spectacular view of Lake Coeur d'Alene.

The O’Neills used proceeds from cocaine and marijuana sales to finance an expensive lifestyle, including cars, recreational vehicles and annual trips to NASCAR's Daytona 500 race in Florida.

Co-defendant Gary A. Votava was sentenced last year to two years in prison and four years probation. Stephen J. McCabe was sentenced to 18 months in prison and five years probation. Debra L. Margraff was sentenced to five months in prison and three years probation.

Manuel Rivera, who supplied cocaine to O'Neill from Kennewick, was sentenced to 108 months in prison.

“Those who bring cocaine or other illegal drugs into our communities will be brought to justice,” Wendy Olson, U.S. attorney for Idaho, said in a prepared statement.  “Yesterday’s sentencing marks the end of a successful investigation.  It is a victory for our communities.  I commend the cooperative law enforcement work that ended this long-lasting drug trafficking operation.”

Authorities began investigating O'Neill after finding his phone number in former school booster and imprisoned cocaine addict Jerry Carlson's phone records.. Carlson is to be released from federal prison on May 1.

Wigged felon with gun, drugs charged

A fugitive felon arrested in Spokane with drugs and a gun while wearing a wig and sunglasses has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

James Anthony Stinson, 41, faces up to 10 years in prison if convicted of being a felon in possession of a firearm.

Stinson was arrested Jan. 16 after a Spokane police officer spotted him driving a blue Ford Explorer while wearing the disguise, according to court documents.

Stinson had an escape warrant from the Washington Department of Corrections. Police arrested him in a motel parking lot at 4301 W. Sunset Blvd., and found methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin in a black case.

Stinson also had a black and silver Taurus 9 mm semi-automatic handgun in the car, police say. He's prohibited from possessing guns because of six felony convictions, all drug related.

Stinson was charged in Spokane County Superior Court with three counts of possession of a controlled substance. He's out of jail on $10,000 bond with trial scheduled for June.

The federal gun charge in U.S. District Court was filed Tuesday. He has not yet been arrested in that case.

Spokane thieves target Bogart, Newman

Six stolen portraits of old movie stars led to a Spokane woman's arrest on drug and burglary charges Monday.

A resident in the 3600 block of East 21st Avenue arrived home about 8:40 a.m. to find a silver Toyota parked in his driveway, according to Spokane police. A man walked out of his garage and got into the Toyota, which was driven by a woman.

Missing from the garage were framed portraits of Clint Eastwood, Humphrey Bogart, Paul Newman, Steve McQueen, Robert Redford and Errol Flynn valued at $500.

Police located the Toyota about 30 minutes later at 2502 E. Hartson Ave.

Suspect Loyalee A. Elton, 41, got in the car and started to drive, but she was stopped and arrested on suspicion of burglary near East 6th Avenue and South Cook Street. Police say she had $900 in her bra and a baggie with methamphetamine, cocaine and heroin inside, as well as prescription pills. The burglary victim identified her as the driver of the Toyota.

Police searched the Hartson Avenue home but didn't find the pictures. Elton told police she didn't know what happened to them.

Speeding stop yields 2.5 lbs. of cocaine

A traffic stop on Interstate 90 near Ritzville yielded nearly 2 1/2 pounds of packaged cocaine and led to the arrest of two men recently.

Marshall Jay Devore, 31, and Rudolph Salvador Pyne, 32, are facing federal drugs charges in U.S. District Court in Spokane after a state trooper stopped a 2003 Jeep Cherokee for driving 84 pm in the 70 mph zone near milepost 221 about 11 p.m. Feb. 11, according to documents filed Friday in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

Devore, the driver, had a misdemeanor warrant for driving while suspended. Pyne, his passenger, also had a suspended license, so troopers impounded the Jeep, which was registered to a woman in the 2400 block of East Rowan Avenue in Spokane. 

While doing an “inventory” on the Jeep, troopers found a duffel bag open with what appeared to be a brick of packaged drugs visible. Detectives say Devore said he'd picked up Rudolph with the bag in Seattle. He  gave them permission to search the Jeep, detectives say, and they located packages of cocaine that weighed 1,079 grams, according to court documents.

Pyne has a previous federal felony conviction for bank robbery in California. He said nothing in the Jeep belonged to him. Agents with the Drug Enforcement Administration filed papers Friday seeking to charge the men with possession of cocaine with intent to distribute.

Devore, who has previous felony convictions for manufacturing a controlled substance in Spokane County in 2008, is in the Adams County Jail. Pyne does not yet appear to be in custody.

Nail salon crack cocaine suspect indicted

A man accused of selling crack cocaine out of a Spokane nail salon has been indicted by a federal grand jury.

Paul Lamar Rios, 30, was one of several people arrested Thursday during a widespread drug and gun investigation by the Spokane Violent Crimes Gang Task Force.

Rios and his girlfriend,  Krista L. Isaacs, 34, were arrested during a SWAT team raid at 8210 N. Lucia Ct. on Oct. 21.

Police seized about four ounces of crack cocaine from a safe in the home. They searched Isaac's nail salon, Luscious Nails and Beyond, 1721 Northwest Boulevard, the same day.

Police were authorized to search the nail shop and the home after a confidential informant used a “unwitting individual” to buy crack cocaine from Paul Rios thrice in September and once from Isaacs at the nail shop on Oct. 14.

“The unwitting source told the informant that Rios was cautious and only deals with five other people,” according to court documents.

Detectives seized the couple's cellphones to review for evidence of drug sales. No charges have been filed against Isaacs.

Rios in the Spokane County Jail on a federal hold after pleading not guilty Thursday to three counts of distribution of cocaine and one count of possession with intent to distribute 28 grams or more of cocaine.

A grand jury indicted Rios on Dec. 20, but authorities waited nearly a month to arrest him as part of a coordinated day of arrests called “Operation Old School.

Officer kills self after being arrested

SEATTLE (AP) — A longtime police officer arrested in a cocaine sting shot himself to death in the Cascade Mountain foothills hours after he was released from jail, the department said Thursday.

Richard F. Nelson, a patrolman in South Seattle for the past 21 years, became the focus of an internal investigation last summer after his colleagues and a member of the public complained about his handling of evidence in drug cases, Chief John Diaz told a news conference.

The investigation culminated Wednesday in a rare sting operation known as an “integrity test.” An undercover officer from another jurisdiction, posing as someone who had just found a purse that contained cocaine, turned it in to Nelson as other investigators monitored him.

The investigators followed him as he neglected to turn the cocaine in, instead taking it with him in his personal car as he drove just past the city limits.

“This is a tremendous tragedy for this department,” said Deputy Chief Nick Metz, who added that he knew Nelson and liked him. “We have a lot of officers grieving. Despite the actions this officer took, he was a friend to many. … His family is grieving very much.”

Nelson, a 50-year-old father of two teenagers, was observed by the department's command staff after his arrest. He was given an opportunity to speak, as well as to call his family or a lawyer. He declined, Diaz said.

He was released without bail from the King County Jail shortly before 5 a.m. Thursday. Members of the command staff drove him home.

About five hours later, he was found on John Wayne Trail, a popular hiking and biking route near North Bend, east of Seattle. He was taken to Harborview Medical Center, where he died.

The incident was the latest setback for the department, which is in the midst of implementing reforms outlined in a Department of Justice report last month that was highly critical of the use of force by Seattle police.

Inadequate supervision and training had led officers to grab weapons such as batons and flashlights too quickly and to escalate confrontations even when arresting people for minor offenses, federal officials said.

The Department of Justice launched an investigation last spring following the fatal shooting of a homeless Native American woodcarver and other reported uses of force against minority suspects. The probe was aimed at determining whether Seattle police have a pattern or practice of violating civil rights or discriminatory policing.

Canadian cocaine smuggler gets 4 years

A Canadian man caught with 71 pounds of cocaine near the international border in February has been sentenced to about four years in prison.

Jonathan Darren “Grundy” Smith, 40, is to serve 51 months for possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine.

Smith faced 10 years in prison, but his lawyer asked for a reduced sentence because Smith was not to be involved in the distribution of the cocaine once he smuggled it into Canada.

Smith had traveled into the United States to obtain the cocaine when a border patrol agent saw him on the east side of Highway 395 on Feb. 16 “frantically trying to climb the snowy berm at the edge of the roadway” near the Laurier border crossing, according to court documents.

Police found 30 packages of cocaine in two backpacks.

Investigators believes Smith, who played on the Canadian Rugby Junior National team in 1990 and 1994, is the same Grundy described as a major drug smuggler during a briefing with an informant in 2009.

Smith's father was convicted of flying a plane full of marijuana into Redding, Calif., and Smith has traveled around the world, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Mexico. He was living at his brother's condominium in Whistler, B.C., before his arrest.

Prosecutors had objected to a reduced sentencing for a mitigating role, saying that Smith's conduct was neither minimum nor minor.

“The cocaine could not be distributed in Canada without first being exported from the United States into Canada. In keeping with the critical nature of this role, it was not left to chance but was assigned to the an experienced and well compensated smuggler,” according to court documents prepared by prosecutors. “As a result, the Defendant’s conduct would not have been substantially less culpable than that of the average co-participant in the presumed, uncharged conspiracy.”

U.S. District Judge Justin Quackenbush sentenced Smith to 51 months in prison on Friday. He remains in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to federal prison.

Past coverage:

March 24: Cocaine suspect already on DEA's radar

Elderly man indicted in drug conspiracy

A 77-year-old man who lived near the Canadian border in Ferry County is accused of being a major drug trafficker.

Alvin O. Shields was allowed to leave the Spokane County Jail on Tuesday, where he was booked Sunday on federal cocaine and marijuana charges that carry mandatory minimum sentences of 5 to 10 years.

Shields will be on electronic home monitoring in Oregon, where he recently relocated, as he awaits trial.

The elderly man and his wife, Beverly Ann Shields, previously lived in Danville, Ferry County, where he is accused of participating in a drug-dealing conspiracy beginning in October 2003.

Shields also lived in Canada for 30 years, federal prosecutors said Tuesday at his bail hearing in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

Prosecutors didn't object to Shields being allowed to leave jail pending trial. In addition to home monitoring, he's to submit to random drugs tests and is prohibited from leaving the country or possessing guns and ammunition.

Shields used a hearing aid in court Tuesday; U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno turned up her microphone and spoke quite loudly.

The suspect is accused with unnamed co-conspirators of conspiring to distribute cocaine and marijuana.

He's charged with importation of 100 kilos or more of marijuana, two counts of conspiracy to import and export 5 kilograms or more of cocaine and 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana, possession with intent to distribute 100 kilograms or more of marijuana, and five counts of engaging in monetary transactions in property derived from specified illegal activity for withdrawing large amounts of cash on several occasions.

Forfeiture charges also call for Shields to give up property at Fourth of July Creek Estates in Ferry County.

Another Danville resident, Harold Oscar Strandberg, was indicted last year after two Canadian pot smugglers, William Richard Paterson and Jahrum David Oakes, were arrested with large amounts of marijuana at Strandberg's Fourth of July Creek Road property.

Strandberg pleaded guilty in March and is on probation for three years.

Crime Stoppers targets 2 drug suspects

Crime Stoppers is offering rewards for tips that lead to the arrest of two accused drug dealers.

Tysen R. Foster, 25, is charged with four drug felonies related to alleged cocaine transactions with confidential informants in February, March and April, and from a jail strip searched that revealed cocaine in his anus, according to court documents.

A $20,000 arrest warrant was issued Aug. 15 after Foster didn't show up for his arraignment.

Also wanted is Darcy Deanne Kern, 44, who is accused of selling heroin on two occasions last summer. She also faces possession charges for heroin that was found during a traffic stop on Aug. 18, 2010. Kern told detectives she bought the heroin in Seattle, according to court documents.

Police found a Jennings .22 caliber semi-automatic in her 2001 Pontiac Grand Prix, which she's prohibited from possessing because of a previous felony drug conviction, documents say.

Kern is charged with second-degree unlawful possession of a firearm and four felony drug charges. A $5,000 arrest warrant was issued Aug. 17 after she didn't show up for an arraignment.

Kern, 5-foot-7 and 140 pounds, last gave a home address in the 5800 block of North Elgin Street in Spokane County.

Foster, 5-foot-10 and 165 pounds, is a transient, accoridng to Crime Stoppers.

Anyone with information on their current location is asked to call 1-800-222-TIPS or submit tips online. Tipsters do not have to give their name to collect a reward but should leave a code name or number.

Spokane dad arrested for selling coke

An unemployed Spokane father was arrested on suspicion of selling drugs after police found cocaine in his car during a traffic stop.

Thomas J. Boring's 7-year-old son was with him in his gray Ford pickup when a Spokane County sheriff's deputy stopped the vehicle near East Sprague Avenue and South Chronicle Road about 3:45 p.m., according to a news release by Sgt. Dave Reagan.

Deputy Jeff Thurman said Boring, 56, had tried to turn south on Chronicle in front of eastbound traffic but lurched back into the two-way turn lane to avoid a collision, Reagan said.

Boring was sweating and “extremely fidgety” with rapid speech when Thurman contacted him, Reagan said. He was arrested for driving with a suspended license, and Thurman found cocaine on him, then discovered a bag with another four packages of the drug on the truck's back floorboard.

Thurman also found a drug ledger in the vehicle; he says Boring lost his job in January and began selling cocaine in July to pay bills.

Boring said he'd just picked up his son “and that no drug sales occurred in his presence,” Reagan said.

Boring, who has a previous felony conviction for manufacturing a controlled substance, was booked into jail for possession of cocaine with intent to deliver, third-degree driving while suspended. He also was cited for failure to wear a seat belt and failure to provide insurance. His brother picked up his son.

20+ indicted on meth, cocaine charges

At least 22 people have been indicted in a major cocaine and methamphetamine investigation in Eastern Washington.

Federal agents arrests suspects in the Tri-Cities, Grant County and Spokane areas Thursday.

The indictment, which is filed under seal in U.S. District Court, includes charges of conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of methamphetamine and five kilograms or more of cocaine.

Those indicted include Flavio Ramos-Chaidez, Hilario Garcia-Moreno, Jr., Jazmin Acosta-Beltran, Cruz Mendoza, Israel Benjamin Wright, Jacqueline Ramos, Alex Villanueva-Garcia, Luis Cerna, Felix Ruben Rodriguez, Cody Lee Poole, Cruz Rangel, Caleb Vanden Dormaier, Nelson Perez, Gabriel Santiago Medina, Dusty Blue Zarate, Heath Wisdom, Sandra Duffy, Jesus Enrique Meza-Valdez, Jayro Alvarez-Farias and Elizabeth Arroyo-Toro.

1-time Hells Angels cook pleads guilty

In a case of be careful of who you cook pasta for, a Spokane marijuana grower faces a potentially longer prison term because of his culinary association with known members of the Hells Angels biker gang.

Patrick D. Bozarth Jr., 31, pleaded guilty Wednesday in U.S. District Court to conspiracy to grow marijuana, which carries a maximum sentence of up to 20 years in prison. The case could have been prosecuted under more lenient state statutes, but was sent to federal authorities because of his association with the Spokane chapter of the Hells Angels. 

Read the rest of Tom Clouse's story here.

Woman in family crack case sentenced

A woman whose mother helped her son sell crack cocaine has been sentenced to about nine years in federal prison.

Nicole D. Hilliard, 34, is to serve 110 months in prison for possession with intent to deliver 50 grams or more of cocaine.

Hilliard was in drug treatment before being ordered to federal prison during a hearing last week in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

Her mother, Tyna A. Hilliard, 54, was sentenced in Spokane County Superior Court earlier this month after pleading guilty to involving a minor in an unlawful controlled substance transaction. She was credited for one day already served in jail and will be on probation for a year.

Hilliard has previous felony convictions for first-degree robbery and attempted first-degree robbery in connection with the shooting death of a man during a dice game in 2002.

Letters of support from friends said she completed drug rehabilitation and has been attending church. She's now in the Spokane County Jail awaiting transport to prison.

Pot supplier in Carlson case sentenced

A marijuana supplier connected to the man who helped arrest former school booster and Coeur d'Alene insurance giant Jerry Carlson was sentenced this week to four years in prison.

 Jesus N. Ortega, 57, of Tucson, Ariz., admitted to supplying former Bayview, Idaho, contractor Theodore Bruck with at least 400 kilograms (but not more than 700 kilograms) between 2002 and 2004.

 Idaho State Police began investigating Bruck after a drug runner was arrested with 100 pounds of marijuana in Arizona in 2005.

Bruck told investigators about Ortega after he was arrested while delivering 46 pounds of marijuana to an undercover officer. He said he met Oretga while in prison on a previous drug conviction.

Also pleading guilty in the case were Otto Cantrell, Cosme Flores and Oretga's girlfriend, Bonnie Duarte. Codefendnats Steve Chilcott and David Lamont also are serving time for the case.

Bruck helped investigators arrest Carlson in February 2008 by twice selling him a kilogram of cocaine. He was sentenced to seven years in federal prison shortly after Carlson's arrest.

Carlson, a former Coeur d'Alene High School booster of the year, is serving a 27-month federal prison sentence. Investigators used Carlson's phone records to help arrest James “Slim” O'Neill of Coeur d'Alene, a longtime cocaine dealer now serving 15 years in federal prison.

In addition to 48 months in prison, Oretga is to perform 100 hours of community service and pay $25,000 in restitution.

Oretga, a father or four grown children, was given an exceptionally low sentence because of his “substantial assistance to the government,” according to the court documents prepared by the U.S. Attorney's Office.

Canadian cocaine smuggler pleads guilty

A Canadian man suspected of being a major international drug smuggler has pleaded guilty to a federal cocaine charge.

Jonathan Darren “Grundy” Smith, 39, faces 10 years in prison when he's sentenced in August.
Smith was arrested near the border Feb. 16 with two backpacks containing 71 pounds of cocaine.

Investigators believes he's the same Grundy described as a major drug smuggler during a briefing with an informant in 2009.

Smith's father was convicted of flying a plane full of marijuana into Redding, Calif., and Smith has traveled around the world, including Australia, the United Kingdom, Singapore and Mexico. He was living at his brother's condominium in Whistler, B.C., before his arrest.

Smith pleaded guilty June 3 to possession with intent to distribute 5 kilograms or more of cocaine. He's at the Spokane County Jail awaiting sentencing.
  

Cops: Man left crack cocaine in patrol car

A Spokane gang member accused of helping a murder suspect now faces federal drug charges for 38 grams of crack cocaine found in a patrol car after his arrest.

A confidential informant arranged a drug buy with Christopher “Baby Boy” Route, 24, at a convenience store near East Illinois Avenue and North Perry Street on March 22 that led to his arrest, according to an affidavit by FBI Task Force Officer Jeff Barrington that was filed in U.S. District Court on Monday.

Investigators followed Route to an address in the 2500 block of North Hogan, then arrested him after he left in a car and drove northbound on Perry Street.
 
Police found $1,500 and two cellphones on him. They also found a large baggie containing 14 smaller baggies of crack under the front passenger seat of the patrol car after Route was booked into jail.
 
Route had felony warrants in Spokane County Superior Court, including one for criminal assistance for allegedly lying to detectives about what he knew regarding the murder of John S. Williams in January 2010.

According to court documents, Route and other reputed gang members attended a birthday party at Casey's Restaurant and Lounge before taking a limousine to an after party at 5405 N. Crestline St.

Route, who was charged with assault in connection with a gang murder in 2005, told police he stayed at the party for only about 30 minutes and left when a fight broke out. 

 Route said he didn't know anything about the shooting, but detectives say he was present when Williams punched out a car window, then was shot to death, allegedly by Edward “TD” Thomas.

CdA coke kingpin sentenced to 15 years

A longtime Coeur d'Alene cocaine dealer who laundered money through a bar and restaurant has been sentenced to 15 years in prison.

James Roy “Slim” O'Neill, 49, was the kingpin of a cocaine distribution ring that supplied the drug in North Idaho for at least a decade and operated partly out of Chiller's bar on Sherman Avenue.

According to court documents, O'Neill also grew marijuana near Mineral Ridge, a popular hiking area that gives a spectacular view of Lake Coeur d'Alene.

O’Neill used proceeds from cocaine and marijuana sales to finance an expensive lifestyle, including cars, recreational vehicles and annual trips to the Daytona 500 race in Florida.

He pleaded guilty in October to conspiracy to distribute cocaine/marijuana and conspiracy to launder money. He was sentenced last week to 180 months in prison.

Others arrested in the case include O’Neill’s wife, Lecia D. O’Neill, as well as Gary A. Votava; Christopher B. McFarland; Stephen J. McCabe; and Debra L. Margraff, all of Coeur d’Alene.

Arrested in Kennewick was Manuel Rivera. Investigators believe Rivera supplied cocaine to O'Neill, who in turn supplied it to others. He pleaded guilty this month to a cocaine charge as well as a forfeiture charge that calls for hm to give up $50,000 and an SUV believed to have transported the drugs.

The other codefendants also have entered plea agreements and are awaiting sentencing.

O'Neill sold cocaine to a confidential informant six times, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office. He and his wife also deposited about $200,000 into their bank account over a six-year period while claiming an income of little more than $3,000.

Chris McFarland was a longtime friend of O'Neill. He sold cocaine to “a handful of persons” through Chillers and used the proceeds to pay back O'Neill for fronted cocaine, according to court documents.

McFarland's wife, Linda McFarland, owned Chiller's. She's charged in Kootenai County District Court.

Authorities began investigating O'Neill after finding his phone number in former school booster and imprisoned cocaine addict Jerry Carlson's phone records.

Past coverage:

May 26: DEA raid shuts down alleged cocaine ring

Hells Angel arraigned on federal charges

A member of the Hells Angels motorcycle club pleaded not guilty Monday to gun and drug charges.

Michael Ryan Fitzpatrick, 33, was booked into Spokane County Jail after his arraignment before U.S. Magistrate Cynthia Imbrogno in U.S. District Court in Spokane.

Fitzpatrick is charged with being a felon in possession of a firearm, conspiracy to manufacture 100 or more marijuana plants, conspiracy to distribute 500 grams or more of cocaine, conspiracy to distribute marijuana, distribution of cocaine and three counts of distribution of marijuana.

He faces up to 40 years in prison if convicted.

Two others are charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and marijuana, but their names are redacted in the indictment, which was returned last week.

Fitzpatrick was arrested on a marijuana charge March 3 but was allowed to leave jail the next day, and Spokane County prosecutors never formally charged him. Now he's at the Spokane County jail without bail on the federal indictments.

A hearing to determine if Fitzpatrick should be allowed to leave jail on bail is set for Thursday. He's represented by Chris Phelps.

Get blog updates by email

About this blog

Public safety news from the Inland Northwest and beyond.

Latest comments »

Read all the posts from recent conversations on Sirens & Gavels.

Search this blog
Subscribe to this blog
ADVERTISEMENT
Advertise Here