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Austin Blues Legend Indicted on Federal Marijuana Charges


July 1997

On June 17, Clifford Antone, legendary Austin (TX) blues club owner, was indicted on federal charges of conspiring to distribute more than four tons of marijuana and laundering about $1 million in drug profits. Federal authorities say Antone was the Austin agent of an international drug ring that brought marijuana from Mexico and transported it to at least eight states and Canada (Chip Brown, "Austin music chief Antone is indicted on drug charges," Houston Chronicle, June 18, 1997, p. 24A; Dave Harmon, "Court documents show evidence against Antone," Austin American-Statesman, June 25, 1997, p. A1).

Antone, 47, is owner of the world famous Antone's nightclub, where blues legends, such as Stevie Ray Vaughn and Janis Joplin, performed regularly. He founded the Antone's record label. Antone was indicted following a 3-year investigation, in which 28 people have been indicted and 20 people have pleaded guilty. Gary Gallman, an IRS agent who led the investigation, said Antone bought nearly 9,400 pounds of marijuana between May 1994 and December 1995.

Dick DeGuerin, Antone's lawyer, said Antone was framed by a former friend looking to cut a deal with federal authorities. Antone pleaded not guilty and was released on $50,000 bail. He faces a minimum punishment of 10 years to life in prison if convicted. No court date has been set.

Antone served time in a prison camp in the early 1980s after he pled guilty to a marijuana charge. DeGuerin said Antone learned his lesson and has been clean since.