A man found guilty of a massive marijuana property scam has been jailed for five years and fined more than $1 million.
In what is Canada’s largest known illegal marijuana grow-op operation, former Ontario REALTOR®, Phu Nhi (John) Trac, 46, secured false tenancy agreements based on stolen or false identities, and turned 54 rented houses into grow-ops between 2000 and 2002. Police eventually seized more than 27,000 marijuana plants, worth $30 million, from these homes.
Along with his wife, Trac controlled and operated two numbered bank accounts with cash deposits totaling approximately $760,000, say court records.
He was arrested in 2002 and convicted for drug trafficking, money laundering, income tax evasion and electricity theft. In December, Trac pleaded guilty to producing and possessing marijuana for the purpose of trafficking, money laundering, plus income tax and GST evasion.
His wife, Man Nghi (Yvonne) Le, and brother Phu Nhut (Mike) Trac face related charges, which are likely to be dropped at the end of Trac’s sentencing hearing.
The operation was first uncovered by a married couple who were renting their home through Trac, formerely a sales rep with Living Reality, when the unsuspecting pair visited their home to find that the empty house had been turned into a ‘green garden of marijuana’.
The couple were one of 54 homeowners across Greater Toronto between 2000 and 2002 to find out that their rental properties had been turned into marijuana grow-ops, costing them thousands of dollars in clean-up bills, repairs and deflated property values.
At the sentencing hearing police testified that Trac was “a micromanager of a criminal organization” who targeted large homes with unfinished basements, where the pot plants would grow to full size. The marijuana growers would drill into the foundations, bypassing the hydro meter to steal electricity.
The majority of Trac’s victims were hard working middle-class homeowners. His sidekick and close friend Sau San (Jennifer) Wu, a Sutton Group real estate agent, is still wanted by police.