Vernon Michael Norvell, 43, is in hot water after pleading guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court in Norfolk to one count each of conspiracy to distribute narcotics and conspiracy to commit money laundering. He was arrested for slinging cocaine out of a now-closed Virginia Beach bakery, called G’s Cake Shop. He also is accused of selling coke out of his Portsmouth home. Norvell’s wife, Cheron Marie Johnson, 31, also pleaded guilty to one count each of making a false statement in a tax filing and money laundering. The conspiracy is said to have brought in $700,000 in unexplained income for the couple.
The charges against Norvell and Johnson stem from an 18-month investigation by local and federal authorities.
According to court documents, Norvell sold cocaine to cooperating defendants between 2008 and 2015 at the cake shop, at his home and at a Food Lion parking lot off Airline Boulevard in Portsmouth.
Sales ranged from one gram for $100 to one kilogram for $46,000, documents said.
In some of the sales, cocaine was left under the front mat of the couple’s lakefront home – which is across the street from state Sen. Louise Lucas’ and down the street from Circuit Judge Kenneth Melvin’s.\
In other sales, the cocaine was left inside Norvell’s SUV, under the floor mat.
According to court documents, Norvell was with an associate during a Feb. 13, 2013, traffic stop, during which his associate ingested some cocaine and died.
The couple opened several personal and private bank accounts to allegedly “circumvent federal bank reporting requirements.” Between 2012 and 2014, $760,000 (including $338,860 in cash) in unexplained bank account deposits were made into dozens of accounts. The couple’s home, valued at $315,000, was also purchased in an alleged attempt to hide the source of their wealth. The home was purchased in 2013 from Norvell’s aunt and uncle for $160,000, but they “made over $80,000 in payments before and after the closing.” Around the same time, the couple bought the bakery from Norvell’s aunt and uncle.
Money was also used to buy Gucci products and vehicles, which included a 2013 Nissan Altima, a 2011 Infiniti QX56 and a 2007 Chevrolet Tahoe. The home and cars have since been forfeited, as a condition of the plea agreements.
Both Norvell and Johnson are scheduled to be sentenced on June 22. Norvell, who had been convicted on drug charges previously, is facing 10 years in prison. Additionally, the Pilot reports, “Prosecutors are seeking a $690,000 judgment against Norvell and a $338,860 judgment against Johnson.”