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

Habitat for Humanity Okanagan receives $20,000 grant

The organization announced the grant from Revera on Friday

Kelowna man attempts to steal bait bike from RCMP parking lot

38-year-old Brian Richard Harbison is facing several charges

City of Kelowna urges people to donate to non-profits instead of directly to homeless

The new homeless camp on Recreation Avenue isn’t equipped to handle donations

UBCO daycare services slated for major improvements

More families will have access to high-quality child care services at UBCO

CBC Radio tops the ranking again in Kelowna

CBC had largest market share for third year in a row say rating company Numeris

VIDEO: Boys help rescue Cariboo bear cub

The cub, weighing just 24lbs, has been taken to wildlife sanctuary in Northwest B.C. for the winter

Doors open to Vernon’s first refill store

Vernon’s Refill Store may be answer to plastics problem

Okanagan RCMP not toying around when it comes to impaired drivers

Saturday, Dec. 7 is National Impaired Driving Enforcement Day

‘Things haven’t changed enough:’ Ecole Polytechnique anniversary prompts reflection

Fourteen women were fatally shot by a gunman at the Montreal school on Dec. 6, 1989

Bear raids freezer, gorges on Island family’s Christmas baking

Hungry bruin virtually ignored meat and fish, focused, instead, on the sweets

Crown delves into Sagmoen’s history with North Okanagan sex workers

Decision on validity of police search warrant will be made on Monday, Dec. 9

Okanagan Similkameen could have a sister city in the south of France

Regional District of Okanagan Similkameen considering agreement with wine region in southern France

Summerland businesses participate in Sip N’ Shop

Downtown event on Dec. 14 will feature local beverages

B.C. pharmaceutical company’s stocks double in value after successful lupus drug trial

More than 40 per cent of patients using voclosporin saw improvements in kidney function

Most Read