September 15, 2006 in Idaho

Woman stunned by son’s drug money charges

Taryn Brodwater Staff writer
 

When she saw flashing lights outside her home Wednesday, Texanna Keyser thought her children or grandchildren must have been hurt or killed in a horrible accident.

She said she was shocked by the real reason law enforcement was on her doorstep in Priest River: Her 31-year-old son had been indicted on charges of using his mortgage business to launder drug money.

Jerod Lee Keyser was the unwitting victim of a man they believed was a friend of the family, his mother said Thursday. Texanna Keyser said her son wasn’t even old enough to walk when she and her husband first met Kent Jones, the alleged kingpin in a multistate drug ring authorities say netted more than $20 million over three decades.

She said she, her husband and their son had no idea Jones was allegedly involved in the drug trade.

“I wanted to throw up,” Keyser said after reading the nearly 200-page federal indictment detailing the charges against Jones, her son and 10 others. “I was blown away.”

Her husband, Phillip, taught Jones in high school in the late 1960s in Oregon. Jones’ father had died, Keyser said, and her husband became a mentor to the troubled teen.

Phillip Keyser was transferred to teach in another school district in 1970, Keyser said. She said they didn’t see Jones again until 1986, when they were visiting some friends in Oregon. She said Jones had heard they were in town and he stopped by for a visit.

Not long after the brief visit, she said, Jones and his wife showed up in Priest River at the Village Kitchen, a restaurant the Keysers owned and operated.

During their visits with Jones, Keyser said they learned he was a professional gambler who was involved in real estate. When she and her husband learned of some riverfront property for sale in Priest River years later, Phillip Keyser called Jones to see if he’d like to invest.

Jones bought into the property, which became known as Raptor View Estates. They developed the property into 11 parcels and sold off the lots, Keyser said.

The Keysers used some of the profits to take their children and grandchildren on a family vacation in Mexico, she said. Keyser said the federal indictment makes it look like the family used drug money to finance the trip.

“I am so totally against anything to do with drugs,” she said. “If anybody wants to light up a marijuana cigarette in front of me, I’m the first one to come uncorked on them.”

She said the only dealings her son had with Kent Jones were a couple of home loans and a refinance.

Now Jerod Keyser is accused of laundering money for Jones and others involved in the drug ring, which Keyser said couldn’t be farther from the truth.

“He happened to do a couple loans for people,” she said. “Some of them he didn’t even know. They were just referred to him.”

She’s concerned about the impact the accusations could have on her son’s business, Infinity Finance. Jerod Keyser was at work Thursday, according to his mother. He did not return a call seeking comment.

His federally appointed public defender, Amy Rubin, said Jerod Keyser had his first appearance in court already. Rubin declined to comment further.

Because Kent Jones is part owner in Raptor View Estates, Keyser said she and her husband’s financial records were scrutinized. When authorities came to her house this week, the couple cooperated fully and allowed them to search their home and shop, she said.

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