PACIFIC PALISADES (CBSLA) — Stephanie Smith, who describes herself as a real estate developer educated at Boston College and UCLA, made news in December, when police accused her of running a multimillion-dollar marijuana grow operation in San Bernardino.
The blonde and blue-eyed 43-year old mother of five with a huge smile made headlines around the world after San Bernardino police raided three buildings she owned and confiscated thousands of marijuana plants all seen on video. Investigators got suspicious when a $67,000 electric bill popped up at one of her properties thought to be vacant and red-tagged it.
Smith lives 80 miles from San Bernardino in Pacific Palisades, where police showed up on her doorstep.
Smith posted security camera photos online from that day and wrote, “Raiding a woman and toddlers with SWAT in full gear and guns is absurd.”
Smith declined an interview but through a statement from her attorney she says she’s “a well-known and recognized leader in large-scale cannabis real estate development.”
She insists she just owns the buildings saying: “The tenants in my buildings were compliant with the laws of the State of California and had applied for licenses from the City of San Bernardino multiple times. only to have their applications rejected for technical reasons.
“These raids certainly inconvenienced me, but they devastated my tenants, who are small-business operators, destroyed over 100 local jobs that paid excellent wages, squandered badly needed local tax revenue.”
San Bernardino Community Development Director Mark Persico is in charge of permitting marijuana businesses and says the city is an attractive spot for marijuana businesses. They already have 50 applications in the works because of Measure O, which passed in 2016.
“The measure sets up a permitting process for both the cultivation of marijuana as well as the sales, testing, distribution. … It sets up a whole permit structure,” said Persico,
Police say the operators of the business did not have the proper permits to run a business of this scale. The plants will be destroyed, and the operators could be charged with misdemeanors.
If Smith looks or sounds familiar, she was the subject of a story CBS2 ran in 2008.
Back then, her last name was Darcy and she was accused of performing liposuction on patients in Dr. Craig Alan Bittner’s Beverly Hills office, even though she didn’t have a medical degree.
Three patients sued Smith and Bittner, but the cases were dismissed.
You might recall Bittner also made headlines for turning fat into biodiesel for his SUV. The two now work together in real estate development.
A Statement From Smith:
As a professional real estate developer with several million square feet of commercial and industrial space throughout California, I provide the infrastructure for all types of industry to operate and prosper, including the cannabis industry. I am a well-known and recognized leader in large-scale cannabis real estate development and I am proud of the State of California’s position on cannabis.
Clearly the Mayor of San Bernardino and I feel differently about cannabis. I’m strongly on the side of the majority voters in San Bernardino and elsewhere who demand the regulation and taxation of commercial cannabis. The tenants in my buildings were compliant with the laws of the State of California and I had applied for licenses from the City of San Bernardino multiple times only to have their applications rejected for technical reasons. In raiding buildings that I own, the Mayor of San Bernardino opposed the will of the voters, wasted city resources and in the process squandered well over $1 million of potential annual city taxes from the businesses of my tenants.
These raids certainly inconvenienced me, but they devastated my tenants who are small business operators, destroyed over one hundred local jobs that paid excellent wages, squandered badly needed local tax revenue and violated the will of the voters of San Bernardino.
As for the marijuana investigation, the feds helped San Bernardino police with their investigation but say it’s up to police if they want to move forward with pressing charges. Again, Smith hasn’t been arrested.