Imprisoned drug lord set to lose $1m home

By Edward Gay

Ronald Terrence Brown was in February sentenced to 11-1/2 years' imprisonment after admitting to importing ecstasy, LSD and methamphetamine, and the Crown is now claiming some of his ill-gotten gains. File photo / NZ Herald
Ronald Terrence Brown was in February sentenced to 11-1/2 years' imprisonment after admitting to importing ecstasy, LSD and methamphetamine, and the Crown is now claiming some of his ill-gotten gains. File photo / NZ Herald

The drug baron who owned a Karangahape Rd nightclub in Auckland while he was on the dole could lose his million-dollar home.

Ronald Terrence Brown made his money importing Ecstasy, LSD and methamphetamine through a sophisticated network. He's admitted making $4.5 million from his drug syndicate and has already had nearly $900,000 cash, $60,000 worth of jewellery and his six cars, including a $440,000 Porsche GT3, confiscated by authorities.

The 66-year-old is serving a jail term of 11 years and now could lose his half-share of the $1.3 million Westmere home to pay the Crown a $600,000 "pecuniary penalty".

The lawyer for the Solicitor General, Robin McCoubrey, told the High Court at Auckland yesterday that Parliament had sent a clear message through the Proceeds of Crime Act that crime "does not pay".

He said it would be a "misplaced mercy" if Brown were allowed to keep his share in the home.

"We can't ignore that for years he made $4.5 million from drug dealing and lived a life where he wanted for nothing because he was a drug dealer."

The home in the harbour-side suburb has a $78,000 mortgage on it and Brown has said he would need $20,000 to sell it.

Brown's lawyer, David Reece, said his client's family didn't want to lose the home where many of them grew up. "When you go inside the house it's a humble abode - it reflects its history."

He said the Westmere home, bought by Brown's family 40 years ago, is now co-owned by Brown and his brother and he asked Justice Mark Woolford to consider the "undue hardship" on the Brown family.

Mr Reece also handed a letter to the judge from Brown that he said made it clear Brown was "stupid and greedy".

Brown had suffered two strokes which would likely "end his days" and he would be at the mercy of his family and the state on leaving prison.

"And now he is set to lose pretty much everything."

Justice Woolford has reserved his decision.

Brown's arrest followed a five-month police investigation which began in 2008 when Australian authorities intercepted a container from Lithuania holding a large granite sculpture with 28kg of methamphetamine concealed inside.

Inquiries revealed four stone sculptures from the same source had been imported, which police found were sent to Brown by Lithuanian drug magnate Rokas Karpavicius who fled New Zealand in 2001 while facing charges of importing cocaine.

Police have said the sculptures contained class A and B drugs. Brown also couriered a Harry Potter book from Spain with 35 tabs of LSD hidden in the spine.

A search warrant on his home found a plastic container buried in the backyard containing about 1000 Ecstasy tablets worth up to $80,000. About $6000 cash was strewn across his diningroom table.

Police seized about $60,000 cash from his Auckland bar, the K Rd Ballroom, and about $300,000 from his bank safety deposit box.

- NZ Herald

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