Crime & Courts

Deputies seize 350 pounds of marijuana from Bull Valley mansion

Military-grade .50-caliber machine gun also taken in SWAT raid

WOODSTOCK – Prosecutors are moving to seize a $1.6 million Bull Valley mansion they say was bought with drug money after finding about 350 pounds of marijuana and a military-style machine gun inside the 17,000-square-foot home set on more than 30 acres in one of McHenry County's most affluent towns.

"The scale of the proceeds of this investigation – including illegal substances, cash, weapons and all the trappings of an extravagant lifestyle – are astounding,” McHenry County Sheriff Bill Prim said. “We are very pleased to have contributed to the dismantling of a major drug trafficking enterprise and hope others involved in drugs will learn that they are not beyond the reach of law enforcement.”

David A. Soskin, 42, of the 1000 block of Cherry Valley Road, is facing charges of marijuana trafficking, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of marijuana.

Jamie M. Lee, 26, who lived in the home with Soskin, was arrested Wednesday in connection with the drug investigation. She faces similar charges of marijuana trafficking, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of marijuana. She was being held at the McHenry County Jail on $250,000 bond Thursday. She would have to post $25,000 bail to be released.

Two McHenry County judges issued orders stating that the McHenry County Jail could not accept any money for bail for Soskin or Lee in this case until further notice by the court. This came after motions filed by prosecutors to prevent anyone from posting their bond until the source of the funds was determined to be legitimate. Funds tied to drug trafficking or other criminal or illegal source cannot be used to post bond.

If convicted of the most serious charge, marijuana trafficking, both Soskin and Lee could face six to 30 years in prison.

Sheriff's deputies searched Soskin's home May 19 and found about 350 pounds of marijuana in a locked closet in the master bedroom, according to court documents. The street value was estimated at nearly $3.2 million. Police also found a .50-caliber machine gun, a Cobray M11 machine pistol with a suppressor, a shotgun and several boxes of ammunition, records show.

The arrests are part of an ongoing drug investigation involving the federal Drug Enforcement Administration, the McHenry County Narcotics Task Force, the Rockford Police Department and other law enforcement agencies.

Rockford police and DEA agents first arrested Joseph Vogrinc, 34, of Loves Park after a traffic stop May 18 in the 4900 block of Rolex Parkway in Loves Park. Police found more than 11 pounds of marijuana and $55,000 in cash. They also seized a vehicle, police said. Vogrinc was charged with marijuana trafficking and is being held in the Winnebago County jail without bond.

As the investigation continued, Rockford police and the DEA's Rockford Task Force joined the McHenry County Sheriff's Narcotics Task Force.

They got a warrant and searched a property at 1001 Cherry Valley Road in Bull Valley early on the morning of May 18. Soskin and one other person were home at the time of the raid. The property included more than 30 acres, multiple buildings and a 17,000-square-foot primary home, investigators said.

Soskin brought about 1,000 pounds of marijuana from California to Illinois over a 16-month period. He told authorities after he was arrested that he picked up about 500 pounds of marijuana from California in January 2016 and brought it to Illinois, according to court documents. He also said he made that same trip a few weeks ago and brought another 500 pounds of marijuana to his Bull Valley home.

Authorities declined to comment on the details of the distribution network.

DEA officials said the marijuana was very potent. Although not the largest marijuana bust in McHenry County history, officials said it was significant seizure.

“This is a perfect example of interagency cooperation, sharing of intelligence and uniting behind a common goal,” Rockford Police Chief Dan O’Shea said. “We will continue to work with our partner agencies throughout the region and nationally to combat the illegal sales of narcotics.”

Guns, TVs and mansion seized

On Wednesday, McHenry County prosecutors started the civil forfeiture process to seize the Bull Valley home. A probable cause hearing will be held in the next two weeks, Assistant State's Attorney John Gibbons said.

"We believe the home was purchased with illegitimate funds," Gibbons said after a news conference in Rockford.

If the house is forfeited, Gibbons said, it eventually would be sold. Proceeds from the sale then would be distributed to a number of agencies across the state such as the McHenry County Sheriff's Narcotics Task Force, the McHenry County State's Attorney's Office, the Illinois State Police and the county's general fund.

The property is described as a large rustic contemporary hillside ranch with a separate carriage home that sits on 35 wooded acres, according to a Zillow listing. The six-bedroom house features a "hotel-style" indoor pool room with a large pool, deck, sauna and bar, a large barn and tennis court, according to the listing.

Prosecutors said the couple bought the home in December for $800,000. The property, which included three parcels, had an appraised value of $1.62 million, according to court records.

McHenry County investigators are looking into whether the weapons they found, including the .50-caliber machine gun, were operational.

It is illegal under Illinois state law to own a machine gun or any weapon that can fire automatically, meaning more than one round is expended with a single trigger pull. It also is illegal in Illinois to own a suppressor, although efforts have been made in recent years to legalize them to protect the hearing of shooters.

Federal law strictly limits civilian ownership of automatic weapons. They cannot have been made after May 1986, and they must be registered with the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives.

Prosecutors had not filed any weapons charges against Soskin as of Thursday afternoon.

Police also seized at least three 43-inch flat-screen TVs from the home. Authorities said they believe the electronics could have been bought with drug money.

Prosecutors said in their motion that Soskin is not employed and his girlfriend has not worked since October, according to court documents.

One of Soskin's lawyers, Dan Hofmann, has scheduled a bond reduction hearing for Wednesday.

His lawyers plan to argue that Soskin maintains strong ties to the community and will show up for court, according to court documents filed earlier this week.

"The bond amount of $1 million is oppressive and more than necessary to reasonably assume the defendant's appearance for the felony case, the safety of others and the community, and the likelihood of compliance by the defendant with all conditions of bail," his attorney wrote in a bond reduction motion.

Soskin would be required to post $100,000 to get out of jail.

Lee also is being represented by the Donahue and Walsh law firm. No one from the firm could immediately be reached for comment.

Loading more

Digital Access

Digital Access
Access nwherald.com from all your digital devices and receive breaking news and updates from around the area.

Home Delivery

Home Delivery
Local news, prep sports, Chicago sports, local and regional entertainment, business, home and lifestyle, food, classified and more! News you use every day! Daily, weekend and Sunday packages.

Text Alerts

Text Alerts
Stay connected to us wherever you are! Get breaking news updates along with other area information sent to you as a text message to your wireless device.

Email Newsletters

Email Newsletters
We'll deliver news & updates to your inbox. Plan your weekend and catch up on the news with our newsletters.