Lisette Lee was an unwanted child, at least by her birth parents. Yoshi Morita and Corrine Lee turned Lisette Lee over to Master Bum Geol and Lauren Lee to raise after Corrine’s family would not allow her to marry Morita. Reportedly, that was because Morita was Japanese and Corrine Lee was Korean.
Oh and it didn’t help that Morita was a wealthy, international criminal who’d made his fortune in the casino business. That placed him firmly in the Lee’s bad books too. Odd. When little Lisette was born her maternal grandparents wouldn’t budge. Their daughter was still prohibited from marrying Lisette’s daddy and Lisette wasn’t accepted as their granddaughter. Ouch. Morita remained involved in the little girl’s life on a financial level. He sent thousands of dollars a month for Lisette’s care, sometimes as much as $100,000.00.
When Lisette was four years old, she and her adoptive family moved to Los Angeles, California. They lived close to Beverly Hills, but the family wasn’t rich. Lisette adored her stepfather. Master Bum was a martial arts instructor. He raised his stepdaughter firmly but with love. However Lisette somehow discovered Master Bum wasn’t her real father. Understandably, she was devastated. From that moment on, the little girl struggled to build a persona for herself, not quite sure who she was or where she belonged. Over time Lisette would become a bitter, cruel woman, lacking a sense of self and punishing those involved in her life for her insecurities.
Eventually, as a teen, Lisette had the chance to make herself into a singer. She had a pretty voice. She also had the look and personality for a pop singer. A local agent thought he scored a prize when they met and she recorded with a studio. This might have been the path Lisette took if it wasn’t for a fateful night in 2009. Lisette and a few friends were at a party when 27-year-old Hispanic street thug David Garrett swaggered in and set his sights on the pretty Asian. It was love at first sight for them both and soon they were a couple. David lived quite comfortably and eventually he told Lisette his made his living as a marijuana dealer but he could be a lot wealthier. Intrigued, Lisette asked him what he meant and David explained that from his supplier in Arizona, Garrett bought weed at $500 a pound. It would sell in Ohio for at least $1,000 a pound, a 100 percent profit margin if he could figure out a way to transport the pot to the Midwest. Lisette’s lavish lifestyle held the answer. They’d use a private jet, which was fast, discreet and would allow them to move so much weight that they’d easily recoup the $50,000-a-pop chartering cost. A vato like Garrett would arouse suspicion as lead passenger on a private aircraft, but not Lisette, who knew no one questioned her when she acted the part of the entitled star. They agreed to split their responsibilities, with David overseeing the buying and selling of drugs, and Lisette arranging travel logistics, including hiring a staff.
Daddy’s little girl was about to prove the apple hadn’t fallen far from the gangster’s tree. She reached out to her small circle of friends, talking them into giving her thousands of dollars to start up a business venture. Team LL was on its feet. Strangely no one thought to ask her about the nature of the business. They trusted her and where profit was concerned, it was trust well-placed. Lisette netted $300,000 for her first business deal. She developed a routine every three weeks. Lisette and her friends brought twelve suitcases filled with marijuana onto a small chartered plane. She only used small landing strips so her baggage wouldn’t be searched. The crew travelled to an expensive hotel in L.A. where they made a transaction. By the time Team LL left California, their luggage was filled with cash.
Lisette began calling herself Mafia Princess. As Lisette became more successful she became more of a bitch. She frightened her friends and that was how she liked it. Her friend and assistant Meili Gady found out the nature of the business when she accompanied her boss on a trip in her chartered jet. The jet smelled like the inside of a dube. Lisette warned David he’d better “fix” the odour inside the plane. Meili also discovered Lisette now packed a gun and carried it with her in her purse. Meili was an aspiring actress from the small town of Bremerton, Washington, a pretty, friendly and goofy oversharer, who’d met Lisette four years earlier. At first Meili was skeptical about making friends with Lisette. Meili saw Lee’s MySpace page, decorated with luxury cars, jewels and unsmiling headshots, and figured they had little in common. But Meili was lonely. Since moving to L.A. a year earlier, she’d encountered little but fruitless auditions so she began to associate with Lisette. Lisette was a person with tremendous control over other people. It was Lisette’s idea of entertainment.
Speaking with rapid-fire confidence during their first meeting, Lisette rolled out an impressive autobiography for Meili. She talked about her much older live-in boyfriend Christian Navarro, a dashing wine entrepreneur nicknamed “the sommelier to the stars,” who curated the cellars of Hollywood celebrities. Indeed Lisette and Navarro lived together, although he was twice her age and nowhere near as wealthy as she. Eventually the relationship broke up. Lisette said she was an heiress to Samsung on her mother’s side and that her father whose family founded Sony had made a fortune in casinos. These claims wre untrue. So was Lisette’s claim that she’d gone to Harvard, where there were statues in her family’s honor, andthat she attended a London finishing school. Before that she claimed to have enrolled at the tony L.A. prep school Buckley, where Lee and her mean-girl friends, “my army of skanks,” taunted schoolmate Paris Hilton who’d begged for her friendship. But mostly she talked about how she had grown disgusted with her glamorous life stocked with privileged phonies, like that “fat Armenian” Kim Kardashian. It would appear Lisette had replaced her lack of identity and belonging with a staggering, multi-faceted persona.
Looking back, Meili was astounded at how easily Lisette reeled her in and how she fell for it. Over time the relationship between the two women became master and servant. Lee made her break plans at a moment’s notice, scrolled through Meili’s phone “just to see what you’ve been up to,” and bought Meili a three-carat diamond ring, instructing her to display it on her engagement finger as a symbol of the girls’ emotional betrothal. The relationship sounded lesbian in nature, but Lisette and Meili were both sexually attracted to men. It was an unnaturally tight friendship although how it remained so is baffling. The more power Meili ceded the more Lee treated her with public disdain. “This is my little desperate whore” is how she introduced Meili to acquaintances. Nice friend. Yet no matter how much Lee’s minions toed the line she wasn’t satisfied. When one friend in particular recounted how abusive Lisette had been toward him, her response was, “anything that comes out of that piehole is seriously damaged.” Well, birds of a feather…
“I know I’ve been pretty much an abusive friend and taken you for granted. I want to change that,” Lisette told Meili. “An opportunity has come up and I’m going to be able to hire you now. Even though you are underqualified, it’s something I want to do for you.” The put-down glanced off Meili who was grateful at the prospect of making money and to still be in the graces of her best friend. She didn’t know what the job was since Lisette told Meili would be her traveling “personal assistant,” paid $1,500 per trip, but Meili was so used to relinquishing control that she didn’t ask any questions. Lisette took care of the travel plans using a chartered-jet broker, wiring hundreds of thousands of dollars in payment through Meili’s pitifully small bank account, something Meili expressed reservations about until Lisette shut her up. “Babe I could throw a stick out the window and hit a girl in the fucking head who’d do this in a second for what you’re getting paid,” she snapped. “It’s fucking insulting when you don’t want to work for it.” Last off Meili was rumoured to have bought a bridge in Brooklyn from Lisette.
By the age of 28, Lisette Lee made herself into a powerful leader of a small drug empire. Her business soared (pun) as she moved 500 lbs of pot during each monthly trip. In spite of Team LL’s success one day David Garrett surprised Lisette with a phone call telling her they were finished. He’d had more of her degrading demands than he could tolerate. His departure opened up old wounds of rejection. She could have shut down the operation. Instead Lisette began to deal directly with the supplier. She amassed a million dollar fortune and became the ruler of her own drug empire. Lisette wore her self-made label Mafia Princess with pride and style. She wore designer women’s suits, jewels, dresses, had her hair done professionally every day, and wore expensive makeup. She looked stunning at every minute of the day whether she was airborne on business or lounging by her swimming pool with friends.
On her fourteenth trip to Ohio, Lisette told the airport crew the same story she’d always told, that she was moving to Ohio to live with her boyfriend. The employees were suspicious and reported their concerns to police. When the plane returned and landed in Ohio, it took two men to carry some of the suitcases, which were packed with bricks of pot and three vehicles to carry all the luggage. A narcotics team of police greeted them with guns drawn as soon as they left the plane. Lisette was outraged. She told police she was a model and had no idea what was happening. At first police were almost fooled into believing her until someone opened her luggage and found it filled with marijuana. Lisette scrambled for yet another identity and claimed she was heir to the Samsung fortune, granddaughter of Samsung founder Byung-Chul Lee. Of course this was proven false. It appeared that Lisette was still searching for her identity. Team LL was busted. The flying Mafia Princess was permanently grounded. Lisette voiced her immediate concern: “But what will I wear in jail?” Lee was charged with conspiracy and possession of drugs with the intent to distribute. Yoshi Morita and Corrine Lee sent a letter that was read in court, on behalf of their daughter. They testified in their written statement that Lauren and Master Bum Geol Lee, raise their daughter but that they had “extensive involvement” in her life.
“In pursuing the creation and maintenance of my own empire, I have sacrificed an invaluable aspect of being a ‘normal dad’ in society’s eyes,” Morita wrote. “I believe my daughter’s mistake was an indirect statement of rebellion towards me.” Personally I don’t believe Lisette was rebelling against her father. She was fulfilling a family prophecy.
She faced up to 40 years in prison but as luck would have it, she received only six years. The crime carried a mandatory minimum sentence of ten years in prison and a maximum life sentence, but a plea deal allowed for a reduction in the mandatory minimum sentence. Meili Cady received a month in prison and a year on house arrest. She admitted she could have made better decisions even though she feared Lisette. After working most of her life to enhance her own sense of self and to further her mystique, Lisette became just another inmate in a penitentiary. So much for the pop singer / model / / heriess/ Asian Mafia Princess. The portrait of Lisette that emerged in court was that of a nonstop identity crisis, as she’d morphed from Ji Yeun to Diana to Chantel to Lisette. Lee now reluctantly admits that she never went to Harvard, or Buckley or Montclair Prep, and that she was never on the cover of Vogue. But like all great liars, Lee insists she never really lied to anyone. If while cultivating her mystique she happened to omit certain truths and the people around her happened to fill in the gaps with their own imaginative leaps, that was their own stupidity. Though branded a socialite Lee has practically no friends. “From the definitions I’ve read of ‘sociopath,'” Meili has stated, “her picture might as well be on Wikipedia.”
Even from prison Lisette remains self-absorbed. She responded in writing to an article written about her in Rolling Stone magazine with considerable indignation: Sabrina [Rubin Erdly] takes every cheap shot possible to make me look like a complete head case. The article is not a fair and accurate portrayal of me; instead, it relies on a very small subset of people who knew me. Then, even after she confided that calling someone a liar is a “terrible thing to ascribe to a person,” she proceeds to call me a “sociopath,” a “great liar,” a “master of deception” and an expensive tart. All completely defamatory, salacious and, frankly, catty. The article closes with a glib statement, notice no quotation marks whatsoever that I expect my prison sentence to be shortened by a judge any day now. I never said that nor would I ever presume the judge in my case to treat me any differently than he always has, which has been nothing but professional and fair.
Diplomatic words from a woman who has been labelled a sociopath, a criminal, a narcissist, a phony, and just plain mean.