Restaurant owner Paul Danny Gosserand was publicly honored as a Kansas City “urban hero” in 2011.
But behind the scenes that same year, Gosserand was selling kilograms of cocaine from his 18th and Vine restaurant, Danny’s Big Easy.
On Monday, the 58-year-old restauranteur paid the price for his illegal drug dealing and was sentenced to seven years and 10 months in federal prison. He had pleaded guilty to conspiracy to distribute cocaine.
An April 2011 tip from an informant to the Drug Enforcement Administration started the investigation, according to court documents.
The informant told DEA agents that Gosserand and his former wife, who worked at the restaurant as a bartender, would sell a kilogram of cocaine for about $30, 000.
The informant usually bought 2 kilograms at a time and would leave the restaurant with the drugs in a carry-out food bag.
The DEA conducted surveillance and audio-recorded one of the transactions in which the tipster bought 2 kilograms for $32,000 each.
The drugs had been “fronted” to the informant, and Gosserand told the informant he needed the money or he would be killed by his source, according to the documents.
Subsequently, agents went to the Kansas City, Kan., home of Gosserand’s former wife, Jean Stephens.
She gave them consent to search the home. The search turned up about 2 kilograms of cocaine, $20,000 in cash and about $15,000 worth of gold coins.
According to the documents, Stephens told the agents that Gosserand stored the drugs and money with her because he was “paranoid” about keeping it at his own home.
Stephens said that Gosserand had been selling smaller amounts of cocaine since 1994, but in recent years had been selling larger amounts.
She said she believed he made more money from drug trafficking than from the restaurant.
Stephens, 64, pleaded guilty last year to cocaine distribution. She was sentenced to five years of probation.