A high school drug counselor who lived a lie and secretly sold wholesale quantities of cocaine will serve four years in a federal prison.
John S. Drake, described by his own attorney as a “conduit of evil and destruction,” avoided a mandatory 10 years in prison by becoming a government informer immediately after his arrest.
Drake said in court that many former students whom he had counseled “must feel betrayed” by his arrest and conviction for drug dealing.
“I am profoundly sad,” he told U.S. District Judge Fred Van Sickle at his sentencing Thursday.
“Somehow, my judgment got clouded and my priorities got turned around,” he said. “I got caught up in something bigger than myself and wasn’t bright enough to move away from it.”
Assistant U.S. Attorney Tom Rice urged Van Sickle to shave six years off Drake’s prison term because of his help.
As Drake led investigators to other drug dealers, the FBI learned that a contract to kill the 42-year-old counselor may have been put out by another conspirator, Rice said.
As precautions, Drake moved his family from his home at 35 W. 16th and will change his name before surrendering for his prison term.
The judge said he could surrender after April 15 when he and his wife observe their wedding anniversary.
At a lengthy sentencing hearing, the judge questioned why he should sentence Drake to four years when others involved in the Operation Doughboy case are getting harsher sentences.
Van Sickle referred to co-conspirators Clarence “Cip” Paulsen and James Larsen, who received sentences of 14 and 8 years each, respectively. “I have concerns about the proportionality” of the sentences, he said.
In the end, he followed the prosecutors’ recommendation in sentencing Drake, and did not impose a fine.
Drake also must complete five years of court supervision, including random drug testing, after he gets out of prison.
He admitted involvement in the sale of five to 15 kilograms of cocaine in the Spokane area.
A kilogram, at 2.2 pounds, is considered a wholesale quantity of cocaine and usually sells for about $25,000.
Drake was involved in selling and using the drug while he worked as a counselor for various schools in Lincoln County.
His attorney, Michael Keyes, said Drake started using cocaine “because of the looseness of the ‘70s and ‘80s.”
Drake established his own rules and never used cocaine two days in a row or on a day before he had to work, Keyes told the court.
“He dedicated his life to being a counselor,” Keyes said, but because he was secretly using cocaine “he found himself entrapped, living a lie.”
Drake was arrested Sept. 27, six weeks after two dozen other defendants were arrested in Operation Doughboy.
Despite extensive publicity surrounding those initial arrests, Drake, Nelson Mariani and others were still boldly planning other major cocaine deals, Rice said.
Drake’s decision to immediately cooperate led to the arrests of Mariani, Eddie Tamez and Keith Young, Rice said.