MILWAUKEE (WITI) -- Six people were charged federally in connection with a marijuana ring allegedly connected to North Side McDonald's restaurants on Wednesday, October 16th, and FOX6 News has learned as of Thursday, some of those charged were already out of federal custody.
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 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.
The McDonald's restaurants allegedly connected to this case are located in Fox Point, Glendale and Mequon.
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.
On Thursday, FOX6 News learned that Marquardt and Webler have since been released from custody. FOX6 News found Webler outside of his home on Thursday afternoon.
Webler said he has "no comment" on the case, and referred FOX6 News to his attorney.
Three other defendants are being detained at the Waukesha County Jail.
Meanwhile, Heiniger of Willits, California remains at large.
A representative with the DEA says Heiniger has connections to southeastern Wisconsin, and they are hopeful they will catch him soon.
If convicted, the defendants face up to 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.
If Patterson is convicted, he could lose his franchise license with the company and any equipment, vehicle or home that may have been purchased with drug money.