Overdose and fentanyl dealing charge are serious business even if the star wasn’t even in the country at the time. Moral: police your houseguests and your staff.
It’s unclear whether Cher even knew a heroin ring was operating inside her Malibu house. She was touring in Australia at the time.
But that lack of clarity can create headaches for the absentee star, which is a real challenge for the way she operates even if she’s never charged as an accessory to any crime.
A police raid like this is a real wake-up call whether you’re home at the time or not.
The facts, ma’am
The 23-year-old arrested for a role in a heroin overdoses and alleged fentanyl sales — he was found on Cher’s property with a pocket full of drugs — was apparently a live-in “guest.”
He’s her personal assistant’s nephew. Rumor has it he was staying at the house without her knowledge. It might not even matter.
If he was there longer than two weeks, he’s a tenant. He needed a lease spelling out where his responsibility ended and Cher’s began.
That’s important because it’s where a risk-conscious millionaire formally deflects liability for crimes at her house back to the people who commit them.
And imagine if the guy had simply drowned in her pool or slipped on the floor and hit his head while she was gone. A formal residential agreement assigns blame and tells the insurance company what to expect.
Cher herself is vanishingly unlikely to go to jail for this. She was in Australia. But her homeowner’s policy now show a drug ring running under her nose. Renewal rates are going to go up a lot.
Either way, we just don’t know enough about the arrangement to say conclusively that she’s in the clear personally. None of the scenarios are great.
Did she clear the guy living there? If so, she has a duty to the community to monitor his behavior.
Did the assistant even know he was there? One way or another, it reflects pretty badly on the family office.
How long was he there? Was he authorized full run of the property? Was he paying rent or was the family compensating the star in any way?
These are all details that figure when a houseguest is arrested.
Say Cher was completely out of the loop. If the assistant figured an empty house (the star has dozens) was a great place to park a criminal relative, that’s trespassing.
And if the guy simply decided on his own to crash at his aunt’s boss’s house, that’s trespassing too. Additional charges can be filed.
Arguably those charges should be filed to completely separate Cher from the ugliness of the crimes. A fatal heroin overdose is ugly. Selling the drug that killed Prince and Tom Petty is ugly.
Having it happen at your house raises questions about your lifestyle. The neighbors definitely don’t relish the sirens or the gossip.
Whatever she knew only muddies the waters. He had a fairly extensive and serious criminal record. There’s nothing wrong with taking a felon into her home, but in that event, her trust was at the very least betrayed.
Keep family out of the office
Family office staffers are generally checked out at fairly high levels. After all, resources are available to do the background research that needs to be done before anyone is offered a sensitive position.
We generally have a pretty good sense that a well-structured staff isn’t going to compromise the principals. They aren’t going to be stealing from the property, misusing the amenities or endangering the guests.
Generally they’re paid and treated well enough to motivate compliance. But the probes and incentives rarely extend to friends and family.
After all, friends and family shouldn’t interact with the family office. These are relationships that only exist when a staffer is off the clock, whenever that might be.
When that line blurs, you’re bringing potential threats into the household that haven’t been properly cleared. If the principal invites staffers to blur the line, it’s one thing. If they do it on their own, it’s another.
Principals can be as saintly as they want to be, offering help and support for staff relatives in trouble. But that doesn’t mean they have to provide that support inside the residence.
If she was told this guy just needed a space to get back on his feet, there are cheap apartments and loans. He didn’t need to stay in a luxury Malibu estate.
It’s nothing personal. It’s for her own protection, reputationally, legally and otherwise.
Imagine if she’d interacted with him and even sampled the merchandise. We wouldn’t even raise the hypothetical before this happened, even though she is getting older and has spent decades in chronic pain.
That’s the reputation threat here. Now we almost can’t help but ask the question, purely in the course of normal due diligence.
So who’s to blame and what needs to be done? The principal is always responsible for either not knowing what’s happening on the property or delegating that awareness to the wrong people.
Whoever knew he was living there needs a good explanation. Basic ignorance isn’t good enough. If nobody in her organization knew what was going on, someone like that needs to be hired.
And if anyone was in the loop, their job security is on the line here. This is an error, creating an unnecessary risk for the property and the principal.
Good family offices are all about the opposite of risk. It’s not hard. House guests need to be logged. There needs to be a compliance record to show the authorities if something goes wrong.
The guest doesn’t need to pay rent or even sign a lease. But a formal no-litigation form taking full personal responsibility for all your actions on the property isn’t a bad thing.
After all, staffers often sign similar documents when they first come into the organization. It’s a basic fact of modern paperwork.
When staffers bring other people into the principal’s orbit, no matter how briefly or tangentially, dangerous loopholes get created.
It’s not draconian or even shady. It’s all about opening up access to the property in a way that protects the principal when something goes wrong.