End of Watch: 01/23/1999
Agency: WA State Liquor Control Board
County: Pierce County
On November 17, 1977, Agent Melvin Journey of the Washington State Liquor Control Board was leaving his Tacoma residence in his assigned vehicle when he was ambushed in his driveway, a target of a mob hit. His wife and daughter witnessed the shooting from inside their home. Agent Journey was shot five times and required transfusions of nineteen units of blood. Some of the blood was unknowingly tainted with Hepatitis C.
The attempt on Agent Journey’s life resulted in the uncovering of racketeering and corruption throughout Pierce County. It centered mostly on the control of night life around Fort Lewis and McChord Air Force Base by the Carbone crime family. The main players included kingpin John Carbone, topless bar owner Ron Williams and Pierce County Sheriff George Janovich.
After the attempted murder of Agent Journey, at the suggestion of Williams, Janovich steered suspicion away from the Carbone-Williams organization and onto members of the Puyallup Indian Tribe. Janovich and fifteen others ended up being indicted on federal charges. Janovich was convicted on all charges of conspiring to violate federal anti-racketeering laws and conspiracy to obstruct state law enforcement. He was sentenced to twelve years in prison, but was released after serving about six.
Agent Journey was targeted by the Carbone mob because he caused problems for Williams by citing his topless bars—which were fronts for prostitution—for various violations.
The suspects in the attempted murder of Agent Journey were eventually identified and convicted.
Agent Journey retired from the Washington State Liquor Control Board in 1992.
On January 23, 1999, Agent Journey died from complications of Hepatitis C in Colorado Springs, Colorado.
Agent Journey served the Washington State Liquor Control Board for 16 years. He is survived by his wife and eight children.