Marijuana King Gets 22 Years

     SANTA ANA, Calif. (CN) – A recidivist felon from San Clemente who owned and operated a chain of nine illegal marijuana stores was sentenced Monday to nearly 22 years in prison, federal prosecutors said.
     John Melvin “Pops” Walker, 56, made at least $25 million from his stores, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement. He agreed to forfeit $25 million, a string of properties, including his interest in two strip clubs, and also was ordered to pay $2.4 million in federal taxes and $1.9 million in California taxes. His prison sentence is 262 months.
     Walker pleaded guilty in April to two felonies: conspiring to distribute more than a ton of weed, and tax evasion.
     Walker was the lead defendant last fall in a federal grand jury indictment of 14 people. He was “the kingpin of a large, organized criminal enterprise awash in narcotics, firearms, and, most of all, money,” prosecutors wrote in a sentencing brief.
     He admitted that he made $11.4 million in 2009 but reported only “a tiny fraction of that income” to the IRS, the U.S. attorney said in the statement.
     In its statement, the U.S. Attorney’s Office called Walker “a twice convicted felon,” and said he admitted possessing guns in the course of his drug possession.

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