SANTA ANA - A San Clemente man, who admitted that he earned about $25 million from marijuana sales over the course of six years, pleaded guilty today to tax offenses and drug trafficking in relation to a string of nine illegal marijuana storefronts that generated millions in profits, according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
John Melvin Walker, also known as "Pops," 56, pleaded guilty to one count of conspiring to distribute well over a ton of marijuana and to maintain drug-involved premises. He also pleaded guilty to a tax evasion count in a second case that was filed in February.
Federal authorities allege that Walker specifically admitted that he earned $11.4 million in 2009, but reported to the IRS income of only $200,180 and that he owed $2,656 in taxes.
Walker admitted in the plea agreement that he owed the IRS $944,133 in relation to the 2009 tax year alone, officials stated.
Walker was one of 14 people indicted in October.
Walker owned and operated at least nine marijuana stores in cities across Los Angeles and Orange counties.
He has two prior felony drug-trafficking convictions from state court. Walker admitted that he directed the managers of his marijuana stores to shred records as part of his effort to conceal from tax authorities income earned from the sale of marijuana. Accordingly, it was routine for Walker's managers to destroy sales records.
Walker will be sentenced in July and is facing up to life in prison and a mandatory minimum sentence of 10 years.
The remaining defendants in this case are scheduled to go on trial in September.