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Justice News

Department of Justice
U.S. Attorney’s Office
Southern District of Ohio

Tuesday, July 2, 2013

Columbus Man Sentenced To 72 Months In Marijuana And Cocaine Distribution Case

CONTACT: Fred Alverson
Public Affairs Officer

COLUMBUS, OHIO – James E. Johnston, a/k/a “Monk,” 50, of Columbus was sentenced to 72 months in prison, five years of supervised release, a $1,000 fine, and ordered to forfeit three real estate properties located in Columbus for his role in distributing marijuana and cocaine in the Columbus, Ohio area.

Carter M. Stewart, United States Attorney for the Southern District of Ohio, Kathy A. Enstrom, Acting Special Agent in Charge, Internal Revenue Service (IRS), Criminal Investigation, Cincinnati Field Office, Kevin McDermott, Assistant Special Agent in Charge, DEA, and Columbus Police Chief Kim Jacobs announced the sentence handed down July 1 by Senior U.S. District Judge Peter C. Economus.

In December 2012, Johnston pleaded guilty to one count of conspiracy to possess with the intent to distribute and to distribute 1,000 kilograms or more of marijuana and five kilograms or more of cocaine, and to one count of money laundering.

According to court documents, in November 2007, the DEA, IRS, and Columbus Police began investigating a marijuana trafficking organization operating in the Columbus area. Their investigation revealed that multi-thousand pounds of marijuana were being transported from Arizona to the Columbus area.

Between the mid 2000’s and October 2008, Johnston was directly involved with this marijuana trafficking organization that used recreational vehicles, trailers, tractors trailers, and rental vehicles to transport marijuana and bulk currency to and from Arizona and Ohio. The organization utilized stash houses and other locations in central Ohio to receive and distribute large shipments of marijuana. In addition, between late 2000 and 2001 Johnston received more than five kilograms of cocaine from Arizona for distribution in the Columbus, Ohio area.

Also, between 2000 and 2008 Johnston used the proceeds and profits from the narcotics conspiracies to conduct numerous financial transactions in excess of $10,000, in which he invested in real estate and real estate renovations, and obtained loans from financial institutions in an effort to launder his narcotics proceeds and profits.

Johnston will forfeit the following real estate properties located in Columbus, Ohio at 1334-1336 West Broad Street, 52 North Rogers Avenue, and 300 Cypress Avenue.

“By following the money trail Special Agents of IRS, Criminal Investigation help to disrupt and dismantle major drug trafficking organizations that attempt to conceal the true source of their money from the government,” said Kathy A. Enstrom, Acting Special Agent in Charge, IRS, Criminal Investigation. “This sentencing is a direct result of the excellent partnership IRS, the U.S. Attorney’s Office, the DEA, and the Columbus Division of Police has in combating major drug trafficking organizations, which have such a negative impact on our community."

U.S. Attorney Stewart acknowledged the investigation by special agents and officers of IRS-Criminal Investigation, DEA, and the Columbus Division of Police, as well as Assistant United States Attorneys David DeVillers and Michael Hunter who represented the United States in this case.

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Updated July 23, 2015