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January 20, 2001

Dot-com earnings at issue in support case

Ian Bailey
National Post

VANCOUVER - A child-support proceeding before the Supreme Court of British Columbia offers a glimpse into what can happen when a $66,000-a-year entrepreneur becomes a $4-million dot-com player with a Las Vegas entertainer for a girlfriend.

The result: $20,000 a month spent on hotels, trips, restaurants, and bottles of ice wine and Dom Perignon Champagne; and his suggestion to his girlfriend, 32, that she spend $10,000 a month to look good and entertain herself.

The story of the player, Darren Little, and Sharon Fawn, who describes herself as "musical artist," is told in a recent judgment from Mr. Justice L. Paul Williamson.

The judge was ruling on interim maintenance for Ms. Fawn, who has a one-year-old son from her "marriage-like" relationship with Mr. Little. The Vancouver couple, according to Ms. Fawn, spent "several hundred dollars" in restaurants two to three times a week. There were first-class flights to Las Vegas and to Los Angeles.

The pair are locked in a "rancorous and antagonistic" dispute that has prompted restraining orders, the judge says.

The fact that Mr. Little benefited from the dot-com boom, which has created a legion of millionaires, is likely to be an issue when the case goes to court later this year.

Ms. Bashman, her lawyer, said she is not aware of how much of the $4-million Mr. Little still has or where the money is, "but that is going to be an issue in the lawsuit."

In his reasons for judgment, Judge Williamson found Mr. Little's income grew over a span of three years from $66,400 in 1997 to $238,000 in 1998 to $4-million in 1999. The judge ruled Mr. Little should pay $1,642 per month in child maintenance, starting Feb.1, based on the $238,000 figure.

"The explanation put forward for this increase is that the plaintiff was involved in a 'dot-com' business," Judge Williamson writes.

The financial spike was a "one-time" event, and Mr. Little now earns $U.S.48,000 per year as a consultant, Judge Williamson writes, quoting Mr. Little's lawyer.

"Dot-com people and people involved in that sort of thing are basically on single events and that is what he was referring to -- a single event,"James Schuman, Mr. Little's lawyer, said. He indicated the looming trial will focus on who should get custody of the boy.

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