He was a well-known and respected car salesman but a court has been told Stephen John Gray was the mastermind of a Waikato drug-making operation worth hundreds of thousands of dollars.
Gray, 56, went on trial in the High Court at Hamilton yesterday on a series of charges relating to the manufacture of methamphetamine or P, cultivation of cannabis and supplying the drug Ecstasy.
Four other men - Simon Kayrouz, Kenton Haine, Kyle Murphy and Brendon Carlisle - are also on trial facing charges including supplying P.
In her opening address, Crown prosecutor Jacinda Foster alleged Gray was the instigator of a drug ring which also supplied LSD.
She said the articulate, savvy Gray was the planner who had properties and the financial backing to bankroll production of the drugs.
The income from illegal activities during May and October 2009, when the Waikato Organised Crime Squad bugged Gray's phones and house, was substantially higher than his legitimate businesses.
In conversations recorded in the police operation dubbed Operation Cape, which the jury will hear over the next fortnight, Gray is alleged to have boasted about one customer who had "buckets" of cash.
Ms Foster said in an October 2009 raid of Gray's house near Hamilton and at two farm properties he owned near Raglan, police allegedly found 183g of P with a street value of about $80,000. They also allegedly found $154,500 in "bundles" of cash.
At two farm properties Gray rented to drug associates, including Kayrouz, it was alleged evidence of cannabis cultivation had been found. But Gray's lawyer, Philip Morgan QC, said while his client had pleaded guilty to several charges of supplying drugs, Gray contested allegations he manufactured P or cultivated cannabis.