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United States of America v. John Choe
Case Number: 3:19-mj-05112-TLF
Judge: Thesesa L. Fricke
Court: United States District Court for the Western District of Washington (Pierce County)
Plaintiff's Attorney: Seungjae Lee
Seattle, WA - Puyallup Bar Owner Pleads Guilty to Illegal Drug Distribution - He Repeatedly Sold Cocaine to Person Working with Law Enforcement
The former owner of Johnny’s Bar and Grill in Puyallup, Washington, pleaded guilty on September 6, 2019 in U.S. District Court in Tacoma to possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute, announced U.S. Attorney Brian T. Moran. JOHN CHOE admits in his plea agreement that, in January 2018, he obtained methamphetamine, cocaine, and heroin from his sources and began selling them to customers at his bar. Between January 2019 and April 2019, CHOE sold cocaine to a person working with law enforcement on four different occasions. The Washington State Liquor and Cannabis Board suspended the bar’s liquor license on June 19, 2019. Judge Benjamin H. Settle scheduled sentencing for December 16, 2019.
According to the facts admitted in the plea agreement, the Drug Enforcement Administration (DEA) and state and local law enforcement began investigating CHOE after receiving information about drug sales at the bar. After the confidential informant and an undercover DEA agent purchased a total of 45 grams of cocaine on four different occasions, law enforcement served a court-authorized search warrant for the bar and for CHOE’s vehicle. Agents found methamphetamine, heroin, synthetic cannabinoids, and Percocet pills in a metal box at the bar. When CHOE was arrested, he was carrying cocaine. CHOE admits all the drugs were for distribution.
Possession of methamphetamine with intent to distribute is punishable by up to 40 years in prison and a $5,000,000 fine. Under some circumstances, the charge carries a mandatory minimum five-year prison term. The ultimate sentence will be determined by the Court based on the advisory Sentencing Guidelines and other statutory factors.
The case was investigated by the DEA’s Tacoma Narcotics Enforcement Task Force (TNET), in collaboration with the Puyallup Police Department.