News

IRS nabs high-rolling drug dealer

By PAT JENKINS

Editor

A Federal Way-area man learned last week it isn’t just cops that drug dealers have to worry about.

Melvin J. Jordan was sentenced to nine years in federal prison for his role in a drug distribution and money-laundering scheme that stretched into Arizona and involved at least two other co-conspirators.

Authorities said Jordan, 30, spent $358,864 in apparent drug profits on property and vehicles and hid his ownership of them. That got the attention of the Internal Revenue Service, which investigated along with the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration and local police agencies.

The IRS targets “the profit and financial gains of narcotics traffickers, which comprise a significant portion of the untaxed underground economy,” said Daniel Wardlaw, an IRS special agent based in Vancouver.

According to a plea agreement and other federal court records, Jordan bought at least 15 pounds of marijuana per month –– a total of 270 –– for a combined price of $700,000 between 1999 and 2001. He sold the pot for a profit and used money he made to purchase, furnish and sell or gift three single-family homes, a duplex and 20 acres of land. He also bought nine vehicles.

In addition, he reportedly spent or possessed at least $474,914 for various personal items.

The IRS said Jordan didn’t have a legitimate source of income for his purchases, and that he concealed his drug trafficking proceeds with help from other people.

When buying residences and property, Jordan used the names of friends and their relatives on purchase-related documents to keep his name out of the transactions, authorities said.

As part of his sentence last Thursday by U.S. District Court Judge Marsha Pechman, Jordan forfeited a home in Arizona –– one of the residences he bought with drug money and part of a money-laundering conspiracy, the IRS reported.

Two other people authorities said were involved in the scheme –– James Altenburg of Puyallup and Norma “Libby” Wagner of Federal Way –– were sentenced last October and in February, respectively, for their involvement.

The IRS said Wagner, a real estate agent, assisted Jordan’s money-laundering.

Tessa Gorman, an assistant U.S. attorney who helped handle the prosecution, said Wagner’s name appeared in some of Jordan’s real estate transactions. She also obtained a home mortgage using false information about her income from a music producing firm called Phat Bastards Productions, Gorman said.

The case is significant because it “highlights” the illegal lengths that some drug dealers take to “live lifestyles the rest of us who have legitimate jobs can’t replicate.”

The Seattle Police Department, the Valley Narcotics Enforcement Team and the Northwest High Intensity Drug Trafficking Financial Investigative Unit, a multi-agency organization, joined the federal agencies in the year-long investigation.

Editor Pat Jenkins: 925-5565, editor@fedwaymirror.com

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