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Ex-Marijuana Kingpin Lands a Job

February 7, 1992 GMT

SAN FRANCISCO (AP) _ Crime may not pay, but criminal experience paid off for a parolee who headlined his resume, ″Ex-Marijuana Kingpin Needs Job.″

It worked, netting Bruce Perlowin a $25,000-a-year position with ecologically minded Rainforest Products. It’s a job he promised to attack with the same zeal that helped him lead one of the West Coast’s biggest smuggling rings.

″Basically, it’s the same exact talent,″ Perlowin said Thursday in a telephone interview from his brother’s home in Florida, where he was vacationing. ″Sales is sales.″

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Perlowin’s new boss, company president Sat Santokh Singh Khalsa, said he didn’t have any qualms about hiring the ex-con.

″I didn’t have any concern about his honesty or his integrity and I think he’s a genius,″ he said. ″He’s somewhat driven to excel and make back his fortune and I think he’ll do a good job for us.″

At the height of his smuggling success, Perlowin lived in a $3 million mansion in Mendocino County. From 1974 to 1983, he ran a ring that used fishing boats, trucks and airplanes to ship marijuana from Colombia to the San Francisco Bay area. He sold a half-billion dollars worth of the drug.

He even hired a research firm to study other drug dealers and find out what mistakes they made.

It all ended in 1983 when he was busted after one of his employees talked to federal agents.

Nine years in prison followed. When Perlowin got out and started looking for a job, he decided it would be ″somewhat preposterous″ to file a conventional application.

Instead, Perlowin took the ″ex-marijuana kingpin,″ approach, filling his resume with quotes from magazines about his brilliant criminal career.

″Bruce Perlowin was an entrepreneur of a different kind. He used his organizational genius and business acumen to build the biggest and most sophisticated marijuana smuggling empire in California history,″ reads an excerpt from The San Diego Union.

Since being paroled in January, Perlowin has adopted a humbler lifestyle, renting a $300-a-month basement apartment in Oakland and selling Amway products.

He said he doesn’t want to return to his old ways.

″The historical epoch that I was a part of is past. Drugs have changed,″ he said. ″It used to be a bunch of hippies, gentle people, honorable people, selling marijuana. I mean, crack did not exist when I was selling marijuana.″

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Perlowin will be joining a staff of three at Mill Valley-based Rainforest Products, which markets cereal from Rain Forest Brazil nuts and cashews, hoping to create a demand for the nuts so the trees will be saved. He will earn a commission on top of his salary.

Sat Santokh said he’s sure Perlowin will be a success.

″I think that he is going to become a millionaire again,″ he said.