MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- The DEA on Wednesday, October 16th announced that six individuals have been federally charged with drug conspiracy and money laundering. The defendants are alleged to have distributed marijuana in and around the Milwaukee area. The owner of three North Side McDonald's restaurants is one of six charged in this case.
The defendants are identified as:
- 38-year-old Edward Patterson of Whitefish Bay (owner of three McDonald's restaurants)
- 42-year-old Paul Heiniger of of Willits, California
- 29-year-old Kevin Breitzman of Glendale
- 27-year-old Paul Markiewicz of Germantown
- 29-year-old Andrea Marquardt of New Berlin
- 39-year-old John Weber of Milwaukee
Officials say five of the individuals were arrested Wednesday morning. Heiniger has not yet been taken into custody.
Through 15 search warrants, officials were able to confiscate several pounds of high-grade marijuana, 11 firearms and approximately $90,000 in U.S. currency.
The charges unsealed on Wednesday were the result of a long-term investigation by the DEA and several agencies in Wisconsin.
Officials say the defendants were involved in a drug trafficking organization that obtained large quantities of marijuana from Northern California within the Milwaukee area. The defendants also used addresses in the Milwaukee area to receive marijuana shipments through U.S. mail -- according to officials.
Officials say certain conspirators, including Patterson, are alleged to have used three Milwaukee-area McDonald's restaurants owned by Patterson to fund their drug trafficking activities, to conceal their drug proceeds and to promote their drug trafficking activities.
Lance Arnold worked at the McDonald's restaurant on Port Washington Road in Fox Point on and off for 25 years. He says he wasn't treated well the last few years, and finally quit this summer.
"McDonald's stands on principles for the community -- good things started by Ray Kroc -- what I always lived by. They don't need crummy scumbags like him running this place," Arnold said.
Edward Patterson is Arnold's former boss. On Wednesday, DEA agents swarmed Patterson's restaurants in Fox Point, Glendale and Mequon.
"We agonized over this for many months, for years, and finally this means justice," Arnold said.
On Wednesday night, Patterson's Whitefish Bay home was dark. Neighbors say they saw DEA agents kicking in the door before 6:00 a.m.
Arnold says at least two of the men indicted Wednesday were McDonald's managers at the Fox Point location.
If convicted of the drug conspiracy, the defendants face a maximum of 40 years in prison.
Meanwhile, the three McDonald's locations allegedly connected to this case are operating as usual. McDonald's Corporate is in charge, and said in a statement they are taking this matter very seriously, and are working with law enforcement.