By Kathy Lynn Gray - THE COLUMBUS DISPATCH
Still wearing dark false eyelashes after a night in the Franklin County jail, a Beverly Hills, Calif., woman accused of bringing 23 bales of marijuana to Columbus faced charges in U.S. District Court yesterday.
Drug Enforcement Administration agents picked up Lisette Lee, 28, at Port Columbus on Monday night after she arrived on a chartered jet from Van Nuys, Calif., with a bodyguard, two assistants and 13 large suitcases.
Inside the suitcases, agents found 506 pounds of marijuana, according to a DEA complaint. The DEA esimated the street value of the drugs to be $500,000.
Lee, reportedly a California socialite, made no statement during her initial appearance in court in Columbus.
She wore drab prison clothing, handcuffs, and shackles on her ankles.
She was charged with felony counts of possession of marijuana and conspiracy to distribute marijuana and was returned to jail until a bond hearing at 10 a.m. Friday.
Lee told the DEA that her family is associated with several multimillion-dollar businesses. Internet searches show she has had a small part in a movie called The Doorman .
The DEA complaint says that drug-enforcement agents in Los Angeles alerted Columbus agents that Lee was making "suspicious flights" to Columbus with "an excessive amount of luggage." When she arrived at 6:40 p.m. Monday on a Gulfstream aircraft at Lane Aviation, agents arrested her.
Lee told the agents that she is a model and a recording artist and was bringing equipment and belongings to a boyfriend who had bought a horse farm in Ohio, the complaint says. She, however, couldn't provide the boyfriend's last name.
She said this is the fourth trip to Columbus that she's organized at the request of a friend from California. Each time, she said, the friend gave her 12 to 14 suitcases to bring to Columbus on a charter flight. She would deliver the suitcases to a Columbus hotel room, stay in Columbus for two or three days, then return to the same hotel room and pick up other suitcases before flying back to California.
She said that the friend gave her $60,000 for each of the trips and to pay the others who flew with her. So far, no one else has been charged.
Lee told agents that three cell phones, cocaine, marijuana and drug paraphernalia found in one bag belonged to her, but she said that some suspected drug ledgers in the same bag were not hers, the complaint says.
The DEA would not give the name of the hotel where Lee had dropped the suitcases or provide further details of the case.
Local lawyers Bill Meeks and Dave Thomas represented Lee in court yesterday, but they said they knew little about her yet.
Meeks asked U.S. Magistrate Judge Elizabeth A. Deavers to wait until Friday to hold the bond hearing because Lee's family could not get to Columbus before Thursday.
After the court appearance, Lee asked a DEA agent whether he would look in her Louis Vuitton bag and provide her glasses and contact lens case.
Assistant U.S. attorney Tim Prichard said Lee faces five to 40 years in prison and a maximum fine of $2 million on the charges.