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By Jim Shilander

A San Clemente man who owned and operated nine marijuana stores throughout Southern California was sentenced Monday in a federal court in Santa Ana on charges of using the shops as a drug trafficking operation and evading taxes.

John Melvin “Pops” Walker, 56, was sentenced to 262 months (12 years, 10 months) in federal prison by U.S. District Court Judge James Selna.

Walker had pleaded guilty to two counts, one for drug distribution and maintaining drug involved premises, as well as tax evasion. As part of the sentence, Walker was also directed to pay more than $2.4 million to the Internal Revenue Service and $1.8 million to the state of California in restitution.

Walker’s nine stores included locations in Dana Point and San Juan Capistrano, as well as six other cities in Southern California.

According to a release from the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Walker admitted to earning $25 million from marijuana sales over the course of six years. Walker also agreed to forfeit $25 million in illegal income, which includes his home in San Clemente.

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