March 7, 1995 in City

Cocaine Trafficker Sentenced ‘Doughboy’ Dealer Gets Break For His Help In Catching Others

By The Spokesman-Review
 

Cocaine dealer James Larsen, who was a major target of the “Operation Doughboy” drug investigation, will serve eight years in prison.

That is less than half the 17-year minimum sentence the 37-year-old businessman originally faced.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice said Larsen deserved the lighter sentence because he had provided substantial help to investigators immediately after his arrest last August.

Larsen’s cooperation led the FBI and the Spokane Regional Drug Task Force to five other significant cocaine distributors, Rice said.

Larsen pleaded guilty Nov. 14 to 14 counts, including conspiracy to distribute cocaine, distribution of cocaine, possession with intent to distribute cocaine and money laundering.

His plea agreement said he accepts responsibility for involvement in distributing from 50 to 150 kilograms of cocaine. A kilogram, weighing 2.2 pounds, usually sells for about $25,000.

“He broke the law. He accepts responsibility,” defense attorney Carl Huber told U.S. District Judge Frem Nielsen.

Larsen apologized and said he hopes his actions have not ruined lives.

Rice told the court Larsen’s help was instrumental in getting guilty pleas from most of the 36 defendants charged in the case, dubbed “Operation Doughboy” by investigators.

Of those, 33 pleaded guilty and two were convicted after a trial. Only one defendant, Robin Mueller, still awaits trial.

The prosecutor said that if investigators had not cut the deal with Larsen, they wouldn’t have caught other major cocaine distributors.

Larsen led investigators to John Drake, Eddie Tamez Jr., Keith Young, Nelson Mariani and Robin Mueller.

The five were identified in a conspiracy to sell large quantities of cocaine six weeks after the initial arrests and the considerable publicity surrounding them.

Drake and Mariani pleaded guilty and agreed to assist investigators in exchange for lighter sentences. They testified against Young and Tamez, who were convicted of conspiracy after a jury trial last month. Mueller is awaiting trial.

“Without Larsen’s cooperation, others would have continued to be major cocaine distributors in our area,” Rice said. “One of the social goals in investigations like this is to cut drugs out at their source.”


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