KANSAS: Johnston v. Johnston and their high-carat “blood diamonds” divorce, Part I

Somewhere out there, in the best little courthouse in the Kansas prairie (the Linn County Courthouse), is the most fascinating divorce case the local Kansans have ever heard. It is a case of “international intrigue”, the likes of which has never been seen in Kansas, and it spans several countries and continents. It is the case of Johnston v. Johnston (Karen and Chris) and it has put Kansas on the map of The Most fascinating Divorce Cases.
It’s the kind of story that keeps divorce judges awake at night. The opening lines from Kansascity.com:

The judge leaned back in his chair and listened as the attorneys went at it, arguing about stones dug out of the African desert, gems grabbed from Asian jewel cutters and secret bank accounts in Gibraltar and Hong Kong…Karen, who grew up in Kansas City, Kan., was a goldsmith. Chris, born in Virginia, knew gem mining. Before long, they were recruited at a gem show to go to Africa. The company they worked for, Indigo Sky Gems, soon got linked to blood diamonds.

The couple, Chris and Karen Johnston, are jewelers, met in 1994, and were married in the “Mekong Delta on Chinese New Years in 1994.” They dealt deal in rare expensive gems stones mined in Africa – aka, blood diamonds. The Johnston’s story spans from Kansas, to Namibia, Gibraltar, Hong Kong, Bangkok, Kosovo, Iraq, Hollywood, Virginia and Mexico. It was a life that seemed like something made for the movies. Sounds like a great screenplay, at least.
Once they moved to Africa, business was good for the Johnstons and they even opened up a restaurant, in addition to a diamond mine:

The Johnstons then started their own garnet mine in the Namibian desert. Chris spent much of his time there. Karen opened a cafe called the Sand Dragon in Omaruru. The stones from their Green Dragon mine were sent to Bangkok for cutting. Business grew. Karen said their gems were bought by Nordstrom and other major department stores
But of course, things started to unravel at some point. Their divorce actually occurred in 2006 according to reports in Kansas City.com.  However, in mid April, 2010, Mr. Johnston spent 72 days in jail for failure to pay child support. (He has been ordered to pay close to $35,00 per month in both spousal and child support.) His passport was confiscated at the time he was placed in the cells.
But the story gets crazy because the detective on the case is allegedly Mrs. Johnston’s current squeeze. (They both claim they are strictly platonic even though they are living together in his posh home.) Anyways, both Karen and the detective are reportedly upset now that her husband has served his jail term and has been given his passport back. He’s apparently already flown back to Africa without paying her a dime. He claims he is broke. Karen claims she has boxes upon boxes of documents that shows that her husband has hidden accounts in Hong Kong and Gibraltar and she is “threatening to turn these items over the the Internal Revenue Service.” She is also claiming that her husband is trying to rob her of her rightful share of their gem business and she is suing for $15 million dollars. The KansasCity.com:

It was Mr. Johnston who filed for divorce in the courts of Namibia, btw. And so he is fighting the decision of the Kansas courts to assert jurisdiction over him. There is no indication he had given up his residency in Kansas, though. So it is unclear why he believes that the courts of Kansas do not have jurisdiction over his person and res. The court did not agree and awarded Karen a temporary spousal and child support order, which, in the aggregate, amounted to a bit more than $35,000 per month – a modest sum, even though her husband’s lawyer says Mr. Johnston can’t afford to pay such an astronomical sum. And then the story just gets crazier. Says the KansasCity.com:

Incredible. It would be amazing to be able to  interview either Karen or Chris to get their side of the story. But it definitely is a fascinating story coming out of the farmlands of Kansas. It is too much detail to cover in one post, especially since we’ve found out that Mr. Johnston has a pending case on the dockets on Linn County Superior Court against Mr. Stone which we want to delve into.  So let’s stop here and you are invited to visit Kansascitydotcom for more on this story. Check back for Part II of this post where we take apart the case of Johnston v. Stone.