A high school counselor teaching kids about the dangers of drugs also was selling cocaine, he told a federal jury Thursday.
“I meant everything I said and did with those kids,” fired counselor John S. Drake said of his former job with public schools in Lincoln County.
But he didn’t fully explain the hypocrisy of working as an anti-drug counselor while also selling cocaine.
“I was just trying to be a good guy, if you can believe that,” he said.
Drake said he didn’t make a lot of money selling or arranging cocaine deals. “I made enough to support my own use of cocaine” that began in 1979 or 1980, he testified.
Drake made the statements while being grilled by defense attorneys representing Keith S. Young and Eddie Tamez Jr. They are on trial in U.S. District Court for conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
Drake agreed to testify against the two men, who he said were his primary suppliers of cocaine, usually in 2.2-pound (one kilogram) quantities he’d buy for $25,000 each.
Drake said he has moved from his home at W35 16th in Spokane, where he was arrested last Sept. 27, because he fears for his life.
He immediately began cooperating with authorities in hopes of shaving time off of what could have been 10 years or more in prison.
When the trial ends, the government will help Drake obtain a new identity, but there was no specific mention of placing him in the federal Witness Protection Program.
Defense attorney Garth Dano, representing Young, asked Drake if he was hired to be a truthful role model for students at various Lincoln County schools.
“That’s true,” Drake responded.
Drake testified in detail about arranging cocaine deals, often acting as the middleman between Young and Tamez and Spokane cocaine dealers James Larsen and Clarence “Cip” Paulsen III.
Drake is facing three to four years in prison, while Paulsen and Larsen could get 12 and eight years, respectively.
Under questioning by defense attorney Antonio Salazar, Drake testified that he had sold cocaine to Spokane residents Joseph Fekete, Tom Wilkening, Mike Nicholson, Rick Olsness and Bruce Fairline.
Olsness, co-owner of Flaherty’s restaurant, is the only one of those men who has been criminally charged in conjunction with “Operation Doughboy.” Olsness awaits sentencing.
The witness said he sold 5 ounces of cocaine to Fekete, worth several thousand dollars, “but he never paid me.” Fekete, formerly employed at Western Batteries, E123 Mission, couldn’t be reached for comment.
But Wilkening, who owns the battery business, emphatically denied getting cocaine from Drake. “Absolutely, that’s totally untrue,” he said. “I haven’t seen John Drake in four years.”
Spokane attorney Howard Nichols, who admitted involvement in the cocaine conspiracy and testified as a prosecution witness, rented office space in the East Mission complex from Wilkening.
Contacted at his Spokane real estate firm, Nicholson said he once helped Drake refinance his home but never has bought cocaine from him.
“That’s not true,” Nicholson said. “If there was any substance to that, why don’t they come and arrest me?”
Nicholson said Drake “is probably trying to make a deal for himself like everybody else is doing” in the “Operation Doughboy” case.
Fairline couldn’t be reached for comment.
Drake also testified that in 1993, he and Tamez became business partners with motorcycle stuntman Evel Knievel.
The venture was to promote golf clubs, a motorcycle helmet and a gold-mining venture, Drake testified.
A man associated with a Spokane bank also was involved in the venture, which was discussed over dinner in Seattle’s Space Needle, Drake testified.
Earlier, Drake testified that he had become worried after two dozen codefendants in “Operation Doughboy” were arrested in mid-August.
Drake said he borrowed $8,500 after Tamez told him that a lot of money was needed to pay off a police officer to keep the pair from being arrested.
But the payment never was made, and the money was seized from Drake when he was arrested.