Our case of the week involved a lucrative businessman who started a San Francisco marijuana dispensary. He called us because his business partner was becoming threatening and greedy.
“Graham” is already a well-established and successful businessman in the semiconductor industry. He called our newly-opened San Francisco office and advised the agent-in-charge that he wanted to meet with me in his downtown office. He agreed to send his private plane to John Wayne Orange County Airport (near our corporate office in Newport Beach) to fly me out to San Francisco.
Later that morning, I was in the Bay area for what turned out to be a very short visit.
Sitting across from this gentleman, I listened intently as he told me about his new marijuana dispensary venture.
Graham had envisioned for himself a very lucrative business not only in dispensing marijuana but in actually providing a delivery service in the greater San Francisco area. To assist him in the day to day operations, he enlisted an associate who was known to be organized and resourceful.
The two worked diligently together for three months complying with all the local laws, rules and regulations. Both were surprised that the delivery business was actually exceeding in profits over the sale of the marijuana.
Graham then told me that his partner was getting very greedy and physically threatening. The man was making a very strong push to oust my client.
It seemed logical to inquire, “What exactly do you want me to do for you?”
Graham advised he wanted a full background investigation on his partner combined with a few weeks of surveillance. He was convinced that we would turn up some evidence that would make the partner come to his senses and not be so combative. If that didn’t work, he wanted by help to form a legal team to sue the pants off his partner.I was in complete disagreement with each and every idea.
Over the course of my career, I’ve found that usually when you sit across from a very wealthy, self-made man, it’s rare that they will actually listen to your counsel. They often want to hire experts for advice and then do just the opposite of the proposed investigative plan.
To counter what I knew was probably coming, I asked Graham, “Other than some time, how much money have you already invested in this business?”
“About $50,000,” he said.
I got up from my chair and went to the chalkboard in his conference room. I told him I wanted to make a few points before I left.
First, a good part of my adult life was spent as an agent with both the Bureau of Narcotics and Dangerous Drugs and the Drug Enforcement Administration. I told him to understand that from the point of view of the agents of the latter, his activities were still viewed as being against the law. He should remember that his name and photo are likely on record in their San Francisco District Office.
Second, I told him that he was likely also known locally with the Internal Revenue Service. With next to no write-offs or deductions in the cannabis business, his chance of an audit was outstanding.
Third, I asked him if retaining my office or associated law firms the best use of his funds?
Fourth, I told him that sometimes it is better not to fight and let things go. Surely, this was one of those times.
Fifth, I told him to have his attorney immediately send a letter to his “former” partner, advising him that he was no longer interested in the business.
Sixth, I told him as far as the $50,000 investment in your business goes, consider it a good business lesson. Any questions?
Graham probably has probably never had anyone be quite so candid with him. He was stunned as to my plan, how direct it was and how inexpensive it would be to implement. He seemed very appreciative and thanked me with a hearty handshake.
“You don’t know the half of it,” I said. “Someday you will realize I just kept you from being arrested, having an audit, spending time in jail and wasting way more that $50K on a criminal lawyer.”
Graham, also most sheepishly asked, “What do I owe you?” “Nothing,” I said. “The plane ride up and back was plenty for a few hours of my time. Stick to my plan and call me if a need arises.” That monetary decision in the past has proven to be good karma and generate dividends in the future.
For Father’s Day, a brother and sister hired us to perform surveillance on their cheating father.