Ex-DEA Agent in Tax Case Loses Battle for Bail
A Los Angeles federal judge denied bail Wednesday for John Anthony Jackson, declaring that he was not satisfied that the former U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration agent could buy “almost a mansion” and start several businesses on a $30,000 or $40,000 yearly salary.
“I find he is a flight risk, and he will remain detained,” said U.S. District Judge Terry J. Hatter Jr. in upholding an earlier ruling by a U.S. magistrate. He also imposed a gag order barring lawyers from discussing the case.
Jackson and two other former DEA agents were indicted by a federal grand jury last month on charges of conspiring to evade Internal Revenue Service taxes by laundering more than $600,000 through Swiss banks.
During the bail hearing, Hatter questioned defense lawyer John Robertson about a list of names of prosecutors, investigating agents and potential witnesses found in one of Jackson’s shoes in a search of his $750,000 Claremont home.
“Is this some kind of voodoo?” Hatter asked at one point.
Robertson explained that the list was nothing more than “spiritual warfare” by his 39-year-old client, who wore it in his shoe on the advice of his minister as a way to overcome those who oppose him. The attorney described it as a “spiritual” practice of Jackson’s fundamentalist Apostolic faith.
The question of the list was raised in a government bail motion, which pointed out that whether it is a “hit list” or a “spiritual list,” it could not be ignored in considering whether Jackson should be released. Assistant U.S. Atty. Joyce A. Karlin, whose name was first, said she did not know what to make of the list, but she said she was “troubled” by it, particularly because the minister who supposedly had quoted Scripture to Jackson about the practice had declined to testify.
Along with Jackson, Darnell Garcia, 41, of Rancho Palos Verdes and Wayne Countryman, 45, of Walnut are charged in the case. Garcia is still a fugitive, and Countryman was freed on $120,000 bail.
U.S. Magistrate George H. King had ruled last year that Jackson was a “flight risk” and remanded him to custody. The hearing Wednesday was to review King’s ruling.
In arguing for Jackson’s release on bail, Robertson said his client had known for at least two years that he was being investigated but did not flee. During that time, the lawyer said, Jackson went ahead with his life, buying a home and conducting his video arcade businesses.
Since the three ex-agents were named in complaints in late November, prosecutors have signaled that they expect to link the trio with cocaine trafficking and charge them in a new grand jury indictment soon.
Federal sources told The Times last month that allegations of theft of government property could be filed against Jackson in connection with five pounds of heroin missing from DEA custody in 1984 and 1985.
Karlin accused Jackson of having “significant” ties with criminals, including convicted felons Ron and Conway Waddy, who are fugitives from a Detroit narcotics and money-laundering indictment. She noted that Jackson had traveled to Europe extensively on private business. She also said the government does not know if he may have bank accounts other than in Switzerland.
“Jackson has in essence maintained two lives for several years,” the government’s bail motion said. “Those advocating bail know only the church-going, family man. They know nothing of his drug dealings and money-laundering, which will be charged in a superseding indictment in the very near future.”