Three drug-related convictions and a 12-year federal prison sentence apparently weren't enough to persuade John Deeter of Lakewood to abandon a life of crime, authorities say.
The 51-year-old man is in trouble again, this time accused of growing and distributing marijuana alongside two of his sons.
Pierce County prosecutors charged Deeter with 17 crimes Thursday: leading organized crime, nine counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance, three counts of unlawful manufacturing of a controlled substance, two counts of unlawful possession of a controlled substance with intent to deliver, unlawful possession of a firearm and possession of a legend drug.
Pleas of not guilty were entered on his behalf at his arraignment in Superior Court. He was being held in the Pierce County Jail in lieu of $200,000 bail.
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Prosecutors also have charged his sons – 20-year-old Benjamin Deeter and 22-year-old Jeremy Deeter – as well as David Escobedo, 19; Timothy J. Frasch, 48; and Margaret L. Phillips, 19; in connection with the case. All have pleaded not guilty to drug-related counts.
The charges resulted from a monthslong undercover Lakewood police investigation. A Lakewood police spokesman declined to comment on the case Friday because the investigation is ongoing.
Charging documents give the following information:
A confidential informant told Lakewood’s special investigations unit in January that he could buy large quantities of marijuana from John Deeter, who is well-known to local law enforcement.
He was convicted in 1989 of unlawful possession of marijuana with intent to deliver after he tried to elude Pierce County sheriff’s deputies. That same year, he was convicted and sentenced after a marijuana-growing operation was found in his home.
Deeter also was convicted in federal court for methamphetamine distribution and sentenced to more than 12 years. He allegedly tried to run down with a car two federal agents sent to arrest him in that case.
In the most recent case, Lakewood police officers and the confidential informant conducted a series of undercover buys of marijuana and methamphetamine from John Deeter and Escobedo, court records show.
Most of the purchases occurred at two homes owned by John Deeter in the 15200 block of Fern Street Southwest near American Lake.
The last two purchases were at Escobedo’s home in the 6600 block of 150th Street Southwest. During those buys, the informant also bought guns from Escobedo, court records show.
Lakewood investigators conducted thermal imaging on John Deeter’s two homes, the one on Fern Street Southwest and another in the 14000 block of 80th Street East. They found heat signatures consistent with marijuana-growing operations, charging documents state.
Lakewood police served search warrants on four homes Wednesday. Court records say they found:
• An SKS rifle, ammunition, drug paraphernalia and a bulletproof vest at the home on 150th Street Southwest. Escobedo told investigators he dealt meth and guns and that John Deeter was his supplier for marijuana.
• A fully operational marijuana-growing operation with 92 mature plants at John Deeter’s home on 80th Street East, a scale, handgun and a number of pills.
• Another growing operation with 64 mature plants and 211 starter plants in a detached garage outside the home on Fern Street Southwest. Benjamin Deeter told investigators he lived at the home rent-free and tended the marijuana plants for his father, court records show.
Detectives also questioned a number of people following the raids. Information developed during those interviews led Lakewood police to the East Side Tacoma home of Jeremy Deeter and his girlfriend, Phillips. Investigators found a marijuana-growing operation in the garage. Several juvenile plants were found in a bedroom, and packaged marijuana was found throughout the house.
John Deeter admitted to investigators that he grew the plants at two of the homes.