Former owner of Best Fish House gets life for cocaine dealing
EAST ST. LOUIS -- The former owner of the Best Fish House was sentenced Tuesday to life in prison on cocaine charges.
Scott Lee Johnson, 48, of East St. Louis, was sentenced in federal court to life in prison and ordered to pay a fine of $2.25 million.
The court also ordered Johnson to forfeit his real estate in East St. Louis and Washington Park. He also was ordered to forfeit his interest in six firearms and $391,400 in cash.
ohnson, who had a five-day jury trial in October, was charged with conspiracy to distribute cocaine and being a felon in possession of a firearm.
The offenses occurred between 2004 and April 2008. He was arrested in April 2008.
The court determined at sentencing that during that time Johnson distributed at least 1,500 kilograms of cocaine in the East St. Louis and Washington Park areas.
Johnson's co-defendant, Lisa Lamb, 45, was convicted of obstructing justice for trying to destroy evidence during a drug raid.
Johnson led police on a brief chase before he was arrested and charged with aggravated fleeing and eluding. He was on parole at the time of his arrest.
Michael Baxton, who was East St. Louis chief of police when Johnson When Johnson was arrested, has said Johnson was a major cocaine dealer in the area, and that he was under investigation for months.
In 2008, police simultaneously executed search warrantss at Johnson's houses located at 8201 State St. in East St. Louis and 5706 Westmoreland in Washington Park, as well as at Best Fish House located at 517 Martin Luther King Drive in East St. Louis. A large sum of money and drugs and nine handguns were seized from the locations, Baxton said.
Johnson's neighbors said he had been working for about a year on his State Street home, which stood out due to its lavishness. The newly brown-bricked home with brown modern-trimmed windows had an elaborate security system equipped with outdoor cameras and motion-sensitive lighting.
The U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration, the Federal Bureau of Investigations and the Bureau of Alcohol Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives investigated the case. It was prosecuted by Assistant U.S. Attorneys Donald S. Boyce and Kelly Lake.
BY CAROLYN P. SMITH - News Democrat
Wednesday, Mar. 31, 2010