Pot, cash, mansions: Judge divvies up illegal estate of divorcing B.C. couple

Pot, cash, mansions: Judge divvies up illegal estate of divorcing B.C. couple

The Smiths ran a multi-million marijuana operation that spanned three counties

Ending a three-decade marriage that included two daughters, multiple moves, and millions made in illegal marijuana grow operations, Mr. and Mrs. Smith headed to court to try and divide up their illegal assets.

In a judgment posted this week, of a case heard in Nelson, B.C. Supreme Court Justice W.A. Baker attempted to make sense of money that was, legally-speaking, simply not there.

“Due to the illegal nature of the business enterprise, their income was received in cash and normal business records were not kept,” wrote Baker.

“The evidence of both parties relating to the details of the marijuana grow operations, and the cash generated from that business, was unreliable. I was asked to draw inferences from recollections which were inconsistent and unsupported by helpful documentary evidence.”

Instead, Baker heard salacious stories about bags of weed and an August 2013 night caught on video, where “Mr. Smith was seen taking a clear plastic bag filled with US dollars out of the bathroom.”

Mr. and Mrs. Smith (court documents only refer to them by these names) disagreed on how much cash was in the bag: the wife said it was up to $80,000, but Mr. Smith said it contained $20,000.

Baker took the incident as evidence that the family did have some serious money, but wrote that all she could conclude “is that there was some money taken by Mr. Smith.”

As Baker tried to determine what cash the “family business,” which the Smiths ran for more than 20 years, had brought in, she was also left to divvy up their real estate assets: the only evidence of hard money the family had.

The Smiths moved regularly throughout their marriage, and bought homes to go along with each move.

In 1987 they bought a home in Coquitlam for $95,000, out of which Mr. Smith operated a small grow-op.

Next, the family bought a $100,000 in Langley, out of which Mr. Smith again ran a grow-op. His pot production made enough money to cover his family’s expenses.

The Smiths then headed south of the border to California, where they bought a property in Mendocino in the early 1990s. Mr. Smith expanded his marijuana production and built “the grow operation, developed roads, septic, servicing, and installed a double wide trailer on the property.”This, Baker wrote, “was a substantial operation with both indoor and outdoor crops.”

They later sold the home.

The family then sold their old Langley home for $250,000, and bought a new one for $400,000. In 2006, they sold the second home for $895,000. Using that money, they bought a property in La Paz, Mexico for between $75,000 and $100,000, and a property on Strathcona Street in Calgary for $475,000.

They then sold the Calgary property to buy one in Grand Forks, where they began another grow-op. They tried to cover up the illegality of the operation with a medical marijuana licence, but continued to sell marijuana directly – something their licence did not allow.

The couple then bought and sold another Calgary home, leaving the Grand Forks home and a property in Mexico as the only ones still owned by them.

The Smiths separated in August 2013. They told Baker that they had already divided up their liquid assets in half, as is codified under B.C.’s divorce laws.

Baker was left to divide their homes, three vehicles, certain shares, miscellaneous personal items including artwork and goods kept at the Grand Forks property and the proceeds of sale of the Calgary home.

Baker believed that because of Mrs. Smith’s many health issues, she could not have been heavily involved in the family’s business.

The only evidence provided was that Mrs. Smith grew 10lbs of potted marijuana in 2016, and bought more seeds later that year.

“I find that Mrs. Smith was reliant on Mr. Smith throughout their marriage. Mr. Smith was the driving force of the grow operation and controlled the money,” she wrote. “He provided Mrs. Smith with cash as needed to run the household.”

In the end, Baker divided up the homes and investments nearly 50-50. She then gave Mrs. Smith the 1999 Ford truck and the 2003 Volkwagen bug, while Mr. Smith got the newer 2006 Hyundai Santa Fe.

Mr. Smith will have to pay his ex-wife $134,694 within the next two months, and both sides of the former couple are must not get within 100 metres of each others’ homes, nor communicate though their lawyers.


@katslepian

katya.slepian@bpdigital.ca

Like us on Facebook and follow us on Twitter.

Just Posted

A man and woman, both 33 and from Kelowna, were arrested on Postill Lake Forest Service Road in possession of two stolen vehicles Friday, May 14, 2021. (File photo)
Kelowna duo arrested with stolen vehicles after ‘brief’ bicycle getaway attempt

A man and a woman were arrested on a forest service road on numerous pending charges

The warm weather means time for a camping trip, or at least an excursion into nature. How much do you know about camps and camping-related facts? (John Arendt - Summerland Review)
QUIZ: Are you ready to go camping?

How many camp and camping-related questions can you answer?

People in Kelowna’s City Park on May 18, 2020. (Michael Rodriguez - Capital News)
Search crews looking for missing diver in Okanagan Lake near Kelowna’s City Park

At around 2:50 p.m., RCMP received reports of a diver missing.

The future of the Okanagan Lake watershed land use will be subject of a new study supported by a $300,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation. (Contributed)
Grant to help develop Okanagan Lake protection strategy

Study receives $300,000 grant from the Vancouver Foundation.

COVID-19 virus. (Black Press Media file)
COVID-19 outbreak declared over at Kelowna retirement home

The outbreak at Sandalwood Retirement Resort was initially announced by Interior Health on April 23

Daily confirmed COVID-19 cases reported to B.C. public health, seven-day rolling average in white, to May 12, 2021. (B.C. Centre for Disease Control)
B.C. preparing ‘Restart 2.0’ from COVID-19 as June approaches

Daily infections fall below 500 Friday, down to 387 in hospital

The BC Conservation Officer Service (COS) handed out fines to two anglers on Shuswap Lake who were both casting more than one line, in violation of provincial regulations, Saturday, May 15, 2021. (COS photo)
Conservation officers snag Shuswap anglers for unlawful fishing

Two anglers were given $150 fines for casting two lines at once, against provincial regulations

KCR Migrant Support Worker, Javier, had an exciting day escorting his son Ian with him during ‘Take your Child to Work Day’!
KCR: Volunteering is being part of a whole

KCR Community Resources shares stories of its volunteers in a weekly column

On Friday, May 14 at Meadow Gardens Golf Club in Pitt Meadows, Michael Caan joined a very elite club of golfers who have shot under 60 (Instagram)
Crowds at English Bay were blasted with a large beam of light from an RCMP Air-1 helicopter on Friday, May 14. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Marc Grandmaison
Police enlist RCMP helicopter to disperse thousands crowded on Vancouver beach

On Friday night, police were witness to ‘several thousand people staying well into the evening’

Lynda Saundry, born 1961, is charged with the murder of North Okanagan resident Barry Jones in July 2020. Saundry will appear in Vernon court May 17, 2021, to fix a date for a preliminary inquiry. (Facebook public photo)
North Okanagan murder suspect to be tried by judge and jury

Lynda Saundry is charged with the first-degree murder of Barry Jones in July 2020

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Vernon Search and Rescue’s Legacy vessel is returning to Okanagan Lake for boating season, the society said Friday, May 14, 2021. (VSAR photo)
Vernon Search and Rescue vessel returns to Okanagan Lake

VSAR’s Legacy is back with a fresh coat of paint and some other upgrades

People shop in Chinatown in Vancouver on Friday, February 5, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Jonathan Hayward
Vancouver community leaders call for action following 717% rise in anti-Asian hate crimes

‘The alarming rise of anti-Asian hate in Canada and south of the border shows Asians have not been fully accepted in North America,’ says Carol Lee

Most Read