BULL VALLEY – New details have emerged days after a Bull Valley couple were arrested in connection with a drug-trafficking operation that show the pair were living lavishly with no visible means of support.
David A. Soskin, 42, and Jamie M. Lee, 26, appeared to embark on a life of extravagance only months after their May 2016 engagement. Prosecutors allege that the couple used drug money to buy a six-bedroom, 11-bathroom home with an indoor pool in December 2016 for $800,000.
A months-long investigation that picked up speed with the arrest of a Loves Park man May 18 and the discovery of piles of marijuana in the Bull Valley house the next day remains active, officials said. Soskin and Lee drew little attention from neighbors in Bull Valley, but their spending surprised at least a few friends in the months before their arrests.
The home was bought through a trust; neither Lee’s or Soskin’s name appears on official paperwork regarding the sale, according to documents from the McHenry County Recorder’s Office.
Although their names are not on the documents, both Lee and Soskin posted on Facebook about buying the home in affluent Bull Valley together.
The hillside ranch, set on 35 wooded acres, includes a guest house with an attached two-car garage, a large barn, a tennis court and a hotel-style indoor pool room with a sauna and bar. The couple also posted photos of two motorcycles and a classic car. Prosecutors haven’t seized those vehicles, but did seize cash-counting machines, weapons and more than $40,000 in cash from the home, police have said.
After closing on the property on Christmas Eve 2016, Lee posted on Facebook about the news, including a photo of the indoor pool room.
“After much hard work, dedication and a lot of determination, we closed today on my little slice of serenity in the ever most beautiful village of Bull Valley. The house I will marry the love of my life. The house I will die inside of, our estate,” Lee wrote in the post.
The couple’s lifestyle raised eyebrows from friends on Facebook. One asked whether they had won the lottery.
The home and property had been appraised for more than $1.6 million, according to court documents. The couple planned to have their wedding at the Bull Valley estate next summer, Lee wrote on Facebook.
Their recent arrests and the seizure of their home put those plans in jeopardy. If prosecutors can prove the home was bought with illicit gains, it could be sold off, with the proceeds going to local and state law enforcement and government agencies.
Both Soskin and Lee face charges of marijuana trafficking, possession of marijuana with intent to deliver and possession of marijuana. If convicted of the most serious charge, marijuana trafficking, both Soskin and Lee could face six to 30 years in prison.
The two remained in McHenry County Jail as of Friday afternoon. Soskin would be required to post $100,000 to get out of jail, while Lee would have to post $25,000.
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.
Soskin and Lee have no felony records in McHenry County. Their only contact with McHenry County law enforcement have been a handful of speeding tickets a few years ago, according to McHenry County court records.
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. 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.
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 an additional 500 pounds of marijuana to his Bull Valley home.
A ‘good biker dad’ and soon-to-be wife
It is unclear how long the couple have been together, but Lee appeared to be close with Soskin’s family. Lee is originally from South Elgin, according to her Facebook page.
Soskin described himself as a “’good biker dad” who loves God, Jamie Lee and (his) four kids more than anything else in the world,” on his Facebook page.
He listed his profession as “director of first impressions” at Consumer Balance in Schaumburg, a finance company that offers services for credit repair and debt resolution. Prosecutors have previously said in court documents that Soskin is unemployed. Calls to the company’s listed phone number went to an automated answering machine.
Jamie Lee was listed as the agent for Consumer Balance, which was “not in good standing,” according to the Illinois Secretary of State’s website. The Illinois Secretary of State declares companies “not in good standing” if they fail to meet requirements such as filing an annual report, paying fees or other reasons, according to state law.
As the agent for the company, Lee listed an address of 38 N. Waterford Drive, Schaumburg. That address belongs to a residential condo last sold for $156,797, according to real estate site Redfin.
Neighbors in the area said they were unaware of what was going on in the home at 1001 Cherry Valley Road because most of the homes are on large lots set back from the road. Several residents described the neighborhood as “quiet but friendly.”
Bull Valley differs from some other places in McHenry County because of its large lots and sizable areas of open space, according to the village’s website. These features contribute to the area’s rural atmosphere.
In 2015, the village’s population was about 1,100 and the median household income was $112,708. The median age is 50.1 years old.
Scott Gilleland, one of Soskin and Lee’s neighbors, said he had only been to the house once, years before Soskin and Lee moved in, for a Christmas party.
“It’s very private up there and stuff, so I don’t know how (police) knew he was up there,” Gilleland said. “They must’ve been watching him ... or had some inkling to what he was doing because, coming and going, I never saw anything.”
Olga Khazanoska, a neighbor who has lived at her home since 2013, said the neighborhood is generally made up of people who are in their 50s, 60s and even older. She described the area as “very quiet.”
She said she had never met Soskin or Lee but saw them around the area occasionally.
“I’m really shocked and I’m very (scared) right now (because) in my neighborhood it happens,” Khazanoska said. “My daughter is a teenager and now I have (to) watch even more carefully what is going on.”
Bull Valley officials couldn’t immediately be reached for comment on Friday.
On New Year’s Eve 2016, Lee wrote Facebook that she had fired her boss, quit her day job and started running “our businesses full time.” The post went on to note the purchase of her dream home, her engagement and taking “the plunge into commercial real-estate investing.”
“2016, you’ve been good to me... thank you,” she wrote. “2017, you’ve got a lot to live up to but I’m so excited to meet you – you’re going to be the best one yet.”
• Northwest Herald writer Danielle Gehr contributed reporting.