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Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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Ex-diner owners admit money laundering

The former owners of a Priest River diner have pleaded guilty to laundering as much as $900,000 from an international drug ring spanning three decades and involving trafficking of 100 tons of marijuana.

John “Phillip” Keyser and Texanna Keyser face up to five years in federal prison for their roles in laundering money from the drug ring.

Their son, Jerod Keyser, is also charged in the scheme and expected to enter a plea March 24 in federal court. Prosecutors say the trio laundered a combined $1.1 million or more.

Jerod Keyser, a Priest River mortgage broker, was indicted along with 10 others in 2006 when authorities busted up the drug ring.

Those charges were dismissed this month and new charges were filed in federal court against Keyser and his parents.

Texanna Keyser in 2006 said her son was the unwitting victim of family friend Kent Jones, with whom the family had numerous business dealings. She denied knowing Jones, an alleged kingpin in the ring, was involved in the drug trade.

Jones was described by the Keysers as a former student of Phillip Keyser, who taught in Oregon in the 1960s.

Texanna Keyser said Jones had been a “troubled teen” whom her husband mentored.

“I am so totally against anything to do with drugs,” Texanna Keyser told the newspaper in 2006. “If anybody wants to light up a marijuana cigarette in front of me, I’m the first one to come uncorked on them.”

In a plea agreement Monday, Phillip and Texanna Keyser admitted to numerous transactions and real estate purchases involving proceeds from the drug ring.

Phillip and Texanna Keyser admitted to selling their former Priest River diner, the Village Kitchen, to Jones’ associate Robert Long.

The $450,000 sale of the restaurant included $100,000 that wasn’t reflected in the purchase agreement, Phillip Keyser said in court Monday.

In 2003, Jones transferred ownership of the restaurant back to the Keysers.

The Keysers couldn’t be reached for comment Tuesday. A person answering the phone at the restaurant said the Keysers haven’t owned it for nearly five years.

In the plea deal, the Keysers agreed to forfeit property in Priest River, including the Raptor View Estates subdivision, which they purchased with Jones.

Property in Pend Oreille County is also being forfeited, along with more than $40,000 seized from Texanna and Phillip Keyser’s home in 2006.

Cars, boats, ATVs and numerous bank accounts also are listed.

The case was investigated by the Internal Revenue Service’s Criminal Investigation Unit, Idaho State Police and the Bonner County Sheriff’s Office.

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