Broker: Hayes was leader in planned marijuana grow

An in depth look at Cylvia Hayes's latest admission about purchasing land for a marijuana grow.

PORTLAND, Ore. -- Less than a week after admitting she illegally married an Ethiopian immigrant in 1997, Oregon's first lady confessed to planning an illegal marijuana operation with another man that same year.

Hayes, the fiancee of Governor John Kitzhaber, said she was living on the property with her then boyfriend in Okanogan, Washington, near the border of Canada, for the purpose of growing and selling marijuana.

"Last Thursday, I admitted that 17 years ago I was in the middle of a very difficult and unstable period of my life. I said then, and I'll say again... I was associating with the wrong kind of people and making mistakes," Hayes said in an email Monday night.

"I am not proud of that brief period of time," Hayes said. "I was involved in an abusive relationship with a dangerous man. We lived together for several months on the property in Okanogan that was intended to be the site of a marijuana grow operation that never materialized."

Patrick Siemon was the real estate broker who sold Hayes and her then-boyfriend, Karl Topinka, the cabin and 60 to 70 acres in rural Washington. According to Siemon, Hayes told him she wanted to get back to nature.

The property went into foreclosure less than a year after the sale. That's when Siemon found evidence of the marijuana grow operation.

"There was a full-size pool table upstairs in the house and that was the first clue," broker Patrick Siemion told KGW's Mike Benner. "There were marijuana trimmings on the table. They had drilled holes in the walls of the log house for the irrigation tubes. Then I went out to the shed and there was marijuana-grow specific paraphernalia, more bloom, nitrogen fertilizers."

Siemion said Hayes, not Topinka, was the leader of the operation.

"The idea that she was an unwitting or unwilling participant in my eyes is totally erroneous," he said. "She did a lot of the talking is all I can say."

Hales and Topinka bought the property for $245,000, including a $15,566.88 down payment. According to the real estate contract, both Hayes and Topinka were listed as buyers.

Hayes said she had no money at the time and didn't invest financially into the operation. In 1998, Hayes said she moved to Central Oregon to start over.

Kitzhaber's fiancee recently came under fire after a Willamette Week report questioned possible ethics violations surrounding her work as a consultant with the governor's office.

That report uncovered a sham marriage between Hayes and an immigrant in 1997. In exchange for marrying an 18-year-old Ethiopian man so he could obtain residency, Hayes said she received around $5,000.

Background: Hayes admits to sham marriage

Governor Kitzhaber said he learned about the marriage on October 7, one day before the report surfaced.

On October 9, Hayes held a press conference and admitted to the marriage. She still "categorically denied" any ethics violations with regard to her consulting business.

Monday, Kitzhaber called for an ethics review of Hayes' work.

He and Republican opponent Dennis Richardson have a debate scheduled Tuesday at 7 p.m., sponsored by host KGW and The Oregonian. The debate will ait on KGW-TV and stream live on

KGW's Mike Benner, Mark Hanrahan and Michael Rollins contributed to this report.


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