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Authorities find drugs, guns, over $500,000 in attic, man says money comes from 'party bus business'

5 months 2 hours 11 minutes ago Thursday, August 20 2020 Aug 20, 2020 August 20, 2020 10:05 PM August 20, 2020 in News
Source: WBRZ

BATON ROUGE - After authorities found narcotics, guns, and over half a million dollars in vacuum-sealed bags hidden in the attic of one Baton Rouge man's home, the accused claimed the money came from his "party bus business."

Deputies have arrested 42-year-old Frank Johnson on Tuesday, Aug. 18, after surveilling him for months.

Preexisting criminal records, including numerous narcotics-related arrests, and reports of Johnson being a major heroin distributor in the Gardere Lane area, an investigation began in May of 2020.

The East Baton Rouge Sheriff's Office observed Johnson going in and out of several different residences throughout the four-month-long investigation.

A warrant was signed to place a GPS tracker on the vehicle Johnson appeared to be operating at the time, although he was seen driving several different vehicles throughout the investigation. A tracker was placed onto one of Johnson's vehicles on July 24. Authorities began reviewing the data on July 27.

Johnson was seen driving a dark-colored SUV, an Infiniti QX70, an Infiniti EX35, and after GPS data showed him traveling to an auto auction in Hammond, a Porsche Macan arrived to his residence on Aug. 11, according to reports.

The suspect was traced traveling to New Orleans on Aug. 17, stopping at a few different residences for under 20 minutes each, then returning to Baton Rouge.

As Johnson reentered East Baton Rouge Parish, EBRSO Narcotics Agents began physical surveillance.

Deputies say Johnson was speeding, changing lanes frequently, and failed to use a blinker while doing so, so he was pulled over.

When approaching the vehicle, authorities say an EBRSO K-9 immediately detected the smell of marijuana. After searching the vehicle, the K-9 found narcotics and deputies located six packages of marijuana edibles and roughly $15,000 in cash under the driver's seat. There was also $1,215 in Johnson's pants pocket.

Johnson video called his wife, Joenika N Vallery, during the traffic stop, who was seen shortly after leaving their shared home with two juvenile children in unrestrained car seats. Narcotics agents say this was in an attempt to move narcotics or money from the home.

Vallery was pulled over with $1,396 in her purse.

EBRSO Narcotics Agents served a search warrant at Johnson and Vallery's residence, finding the following:

- 16.8 grams of marijuana
- 4 dosage units of ecstacy
- 37 dosage units of MDMA capsules
- An AK pistol, a Beretta .40 handgun
- A money counter
- Approximately $501,174 in the attic
- Approximately $955 on the bedroom nightstand
- Approximately $4,042 in the bedroom dresser

Both Johnson and Vallery were transported to EBRSO Central Substation for questioning, where Johnson initially told authorities there were no narcotics, weapons, or money at the residence.

After he was informed of the findings, Johnson admitted the narcotics were his, but said the firearms belonged to Vallery.

The couple had conflicting stories, however, both initially denied having any knowledge of the money found in the attic. Authorities believe this was in an attempt to conceal proceeds that diverted from criminal activity, including selling narcotics and investing in a Porsche to disguise the funds.

Johnson told authorities that he believed EBRSO was attempting to have him admit that the money was from heroin sales, but said he would not. He later admitted to knowing about the money in the attic, but he denied knowledge of the amount. Johnson told investigators that the money came from years of cutting grass, saving, selling beauty supplies, grant money he acquired from Hurricane Katrina, and money he earns with a party bus business that he runs, but does not have a business license for.

Johnson was charged with money laundering, possession with intent to distribute schedule I (MDMA), possession with intent to distribute schedule I (Marijuana), possession of schedule V (promethazine), possession of a firearm with CDS, and possession of drug paraphernalia. His bond is set at $361,000.

Vallery was charged with money laundering. Her bond is set at $250,000.

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