Back in June of 2013, local law enforcement officers in Junction City, Kansas stopped a 2002 GMC Sierra pickup truck for speeding.
Approaching the vehicle, the officers noted that the bed of the truck was full of junk and debris, including an old fridge. But once they identified the elderly driver behind the wheel, they quickly realized that there might be more to the old rambling man than meets the eye.
Marshall Dion, 78 years old at the time of the traffic stop in Kansas, told the officers at the scene that he was just a simple old man making a simple commute from Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, back home to Tucson, Arizona. Simply a face-to-face visit to his accountant, he told them.
But once they pulled up his ID in their system, a lengthy rap sheet appeared under his name, showing weed-related charges from multiple states, dating back decades. Not simple possession either for this anything-but-simple old timer.
In 1985, Dion crashed a single engine airplane in Wisconsin. The impact broke both of his ankles and when the first responders hit the crash site, loose bills of cash were still floating down from the sky as Dion tried in vain to crawl away by way of a nearby ditch.
Dion told the authorities it wasn’t his money and, well, it was the ’80s so the local cops just pocketed somewhere around $112,000 -deemed “drug money” – and let Dion walk, or limp, free without an official arrest.
In 1989 Dion was busted in Boston with over 100 pounds of marijuana in his car, and was convicted of trafficking charges.
That sort of a line on your record can get a cop’s attention, even decades later. Such was the case in 2013 when Dion once again found himself being questioned by police on the side of the road.
“I am telling you I am clean. I’ve been out of the business. That was 23 years ago,” Dion allegedly told the Junction City police officer last summer. Police say he then gave them clear consent to search his vehicle, a point that Dion disagrees with to this day.
|Junction City Police Department|
|Marshall Dion, pictured at age 78|
That search yielded $828,220 in cash; quite a sum for a man who had just told the cops that he was living on his $690/month social security check.
The officers also confiscated the GPS unit in Dion’s truck and managed to backtrack all of his driving habits, a pattern that led them to a storage unit in North Reading, Massachusetts. We told you this guy gets around.
In that nondescript storage unit authorities found nearly $15 million in cold, hard cash, as well as approximately 400 pounds of weed. For the trifecta, Dion also kept records and ledgers in the same storage unit, outlining in painstaking detail an illegal trafficking career going back as far as 1992.
At the time of the stop and seizure of the $828,220, Junction City Police Chief Tim Brown stated that the bust was the largest cash haul in the history of Geary County, Kansas.
Earlier in the same month, however, another car with Arizona license plates was stopped on the same Junction City stretch of I-70, and 350 pounds of weed were confiscated and three people arrested. Just a week after that, on June 7th, a California couple was pulled over in their RV, and was arrested when Junction City police found an undisclosed “large amount” of cash in the vehicle.
Chief Brown readily admits that after all is said and done in these cases, the agencies involved in the arrests often get to split the money seized. In a small town department like the Junction City PD, $828,220 could buy an awful lot of donuts.
But Marshall H. Dion, now 79 years young and facing hard time in federal prison, isn’t done fighting just yet.
His defense, unlike his rap sheet, truly is pretty simple. He says he never gave the Junction City cops permission to search his truck that June day in 2013.
So today, in federal court in Boston, Dion’s lawyer, a man named Henry Brennan, will argue that since the stop and search were illegal, everything that happened after the fact is illegal, and therefore should be thrown out with the entire rest of the case against his client.
Hell, if the airplane excuse worked, maybe the old man’s got one more stroke of luck in him.