Former Nightclub Owner Convicted of Drug and Gun Crimes
Defendant Sought to Open “Ice Nightclub” near Seattle Center to Launder Drug Proceeds
A 40-year-old Olympia, Washington man was convicted today of drug distribution and illegal firearms charges in U.S. District Court in Seattle, announced Acting United States Attorney Annette L. Hayes. STEVEN ASIR THOMAS, was convicted of Conspiracy to Distribute Controlled Substances, Money Laundering, Conspiracy to Possess Firearms in Furtherance of a Drug Trafficking Crime and being a Felon in Possession of a Firearm following a six day jury trial. The jury deliberated about one day before returning the guilty verdicts. THOMAS faces a mandatory minimum ten years in prison and up to life in prison when sentenced by U.S. District Judge John C. Coughenour on June 29, 2015.
According to records in the case and testimony at trial, THOMAS had owned various nightclubs in the Seattle area, and sought to open a new nightclub near the Seattle Center called “Ice Nightclub”. THOMAS discussed his plans with a person working with law enforcement as well as with an undercover agent. THOMAS claimed the club would be a cover to launder drug money, and would generate cash for additional drug purchases. In October 2013, THOMAS worked to set up a drug deal trading methamphetamine for assault rifles. On three other occasions, law enforcement seized drugs that were either delivered or ordered by THOMAS. In October 2013, THOMAS picked up a pound of methamphetamine from a source and then “sold” it to an undercover agent in Portland, Oregon. About a week later, another two pound load of methamphetamine was seized on a bus headed to Portland – the courier was bringing it to THOMAS. Finally, in March 2014, THOMAS arranged another one pound sale in Portland of highly pure methamphetamine to an undercover agent.
THOMAS used bank accounts set up in the name of ICE Nightclub to launder money he believed to be the proceeds of drug dealing. Some of the money was provided to THOMAS by undercover agents acting as drug dealers. The basic scheme was for purported drug dealers to give him cash disguised as an investment in the club. Then THOMAS would write a check from ICE Nightclub accounts to an entity connected to the purported drug dealers to make it appear that the ICE Nightclub was paying for services rendered. THOMAS collected a fee from the “drug dealers” for his conduct as well.
Finally, on March 27, 2014, law enforcement executed a search warrant at THOMAS’s residence. They found a loaded Glock 9 mm Model 19 firearm next to his bed. Also in the residence was evidence of drug dealing including cocaine, 14 cell phones, scales, currency bands and evidence of a previous marijuana grow. THOMAS is prohibited from possessing guns due to a felony drug conviction in 2006 in Arkansas.
This was an Organized Crime and Drug Enforcement Task Force (OCDETF) investigation, providing supplemental federal funding to the federal and state agencies involved. The case was investigated by U.S. Immigration and Custom Enforcement’s Homeland Security Investigations (HSI), the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms & Explosives (ATF) and the Seattle Police Department.
The case was prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorneys Jerrod Patterson, Lisca Borichewski and Nicholas Manheim.