BULL VALLEY – Authorities say a Bull Valley man moved hundreds of pounds of marijuana from California to Illinois using a $100,000 trailer with a hidden compartment that could only be opened by hooking up the trailer to a truck, putting it in reverse, turning on the ceiling fan and then pushing a button on a hand-held remote.
Affidavits filed by prosecutors in McHenry County Court recently reveal more details about the lives of a couple that authorities say ran a cross-country drug-trafficking operation from their Bull Valley mansion.
David A. Soskin, a 43-year-old former businessman, and his fiancée, 26-year-old Jamie M. Lee, were arrested in May after police found about 350 pounds of marijuana, valued at about $3.2 million, in a locked closet in the master bedroom of the home. Both have been charged with marijuana trafficking and face a minimum of 12 years in prison, if convicted. They have pleaded not guilty.
Court documents contained statements from Drug Enforcement Administration agents in support of ongoing efforts to seize the couple’s $800,000 home along with cash, a $100,000 fifth-wheel trailer, four ATVs, 18 TVs and other items they allege the pair bought with profits from marijuana trafficking.
Soskin was arrested during a raid of the couple’s home at 1001 Cherry Valley Road on May 19. Lee, who initially denied any knowledge of the drug operation, was arrested five days later, records show.
Investigators said they found drug ledgers in the home, along with cash, a .50-caliber machine gun, a Cobray M11 machine pistol with a suppressor, a shotgun and several boxes of ammunition, according to court documents.
After his arrest, Soskin told investigators he had recently returned from a trip to California to pick up marijuana and bring it to Illinois. He said he was a professional gambler and owned a consulting business, but also noted he had been selling marijuana for the past 18 months, according to an affidavit.
“David said he never keeps the marijuana in his house, but did this time because he was conducting an inventory of it,” the affidavit stated.
Soskin estimated there was about 300 pounds of marijuana in his house and about $45,000 in a safe, according to an affidavit.
Officers found an Excel spreadsheet in the house with various marijuana strains, THC pills and edibles listed on it. Soskin told officers the spreadsheet was an inventory of marijuana he had previously picked up, according to an affidavit.
More than 1,000 prescription pills also were found in the home. Soskin told investigators that he had prescriptions for the pills, but that he sold them instead of taking them, according to an affidavit.
He also said he bought a .50-caliber machine gun at a flea market in another state, according to court records. Weapons charges were filed against Soskin earlier this month because Soskin was previously sentenced in 1998 to 20 months in federal prison for illegally possessing and selling stolen firearms. He pleaded guilty to stealing about 150 firearms from a Bensenville gun store owned by his father.
FEDS DETAIL SMUGGLING OPERATION
Court documents laid out the inner workings of the smuggling operation, including how drugs and cash were transported, the profits involved and apparent contradictions in what Lee told investigators about her involvement and the couple’s relationship.
Lee initially told a DEA agent that she didn’t know about the piles of marijuana locked a closet in the master bedroom. She said there was marijuana oil and/or wax in a mini-fridge in the bedroom and that she smoked marijuana every night, according to an affidavit. She later said she would only agree to marry Soskin if he didn’t sell or use marijuana.
During subsequent interviews, records show Lee talked about her and Soskin’s relationship, and when she learned about Soskin’s involvement in drug trafficking. She said her involvement was limited, but later told agents she did what her fiancé told her to do.
Lee told officers that she became “fully aware” of the marijuana trafficking in September or October 2016, according to an affidavit. She said Soskin hired a friend to drive a fifth wheel trailer they previously bought for $100,000 to transport the marijuana from California, according to an affidavit.
Soskin’s friend made about $5,000 a trip, and he and Soskin made the trip every five weeks, she said.
She said Soskin flew to and from California to oversee the transaction, while his friend would drive the money to California and return with marijuana. Lee said they bought the pot in California for $800 to $1,200 a pound and then it sold in Illinois for between $2,000 and $3,000 a pound, according to an affidavit.
“Jamie further advised that although she knew about the marijuana trafficking, her involvement was minimal,” according to court records. “Jamie stated she would only occasionally help David keep inventory of the different types of cannabis and their respective amounts.”
During a raid of the couple’s home at 1001 Cherry Valley Road on May 19, DEA agents said they found documents prepared by Soskin that showed he had a net worth of $4.4 million. The list included almost $830,000 in 17 bank accounts, $3.35 million in real estate holdings and $820,000 in personal property such as vintage cars, home furnishings and firearms. It also listed a $450,000 mortgage on the six-bedroom, 11-bathroom home, $62,000 in vehicle loans and $15,000 from a pending medical lawsuit.
‘YOU DON’T WANT TO KNOW’
Lee told investigators that Soskin worked for a consulting firm from 1999 until it folded in 2006. He went back to consulting in 2013 for another company, Lee said, but was laid off after a golf cart crash in 2014.
On Facebook, Soskin 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.
Lee said she worked for Soskin’s consulting business, kept up their home and did whatever he asked of her. She said there were times when she had to pick Soskin up or drop him off at O’Hare Airport for consulting trips, and at the time, only knew he was traveling to California and back, according to an affidavit.
“Jamie denied any part in bookkeeping for the business or any other in-depth knowledge of David’s consulting,” the affidavit said.
She said the couple had been together “off and on” for the past eight years. The couple was living in Buffalo Grove in January 2015, but Lee ended their relationship in November 2015. She said she didn’t move out until March 2016.
Soskin proposed to Lee in May 2016.
“Jamie accepted the proposal with the conditions that David not sell or use cannabis and that they buy a house,” the affidavit said.
The couple bought the 17,000-square-foot home in December 2016. Lee said Soskin put $400,000 down and then took out a $450,000 mortgage.
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. The home and property had been appraised for more than $1.6 million, according to court documents.
Lee told investigators that Soskin was unemployed. She said he told her he was doing consulting work on his own and making money gambling. Shortly thereafter, Soskin said he was doing consulting work for a “leads company” in California, Lee told investigators.
“She soon became suspicious of David’s activity because he was not home often, would not answer his phone when he was gone and would not tell her specifics about what he was doing,” agents wrote in the affidavit.
Lee told the agents that when she would ask Soskin questions about his work, he would tell her, “’You don’t want to know.’”
Soskin remained in McHenry County Jail custody as of Friday afternoon. He is required to post $100,000 to get out of jail. Lee posted bond June 23 after proving the funds she intended to post were from a legitimate source.
If Soskin is able to come up with the money to post bond, he would also have to prove the funds came from a legitimate source, according to a court order. Funds tied to drug trafficking or other criminal or illegal sources cannot be used to post bond.
Soskin will next appear in court Friday and Lee will appear Aug. 4.
David Soskin’s personal financial statement
• $828,518 in bank accounts and cash
• $3.35 million in real estate
• $700,000 in loans receivable
• $450,000 in mortgage payable
• $62,000 in vehicle loans
• $15,000 in medical lawsuit pending
• 4,363,518: personal net worth
Source: Court records