Former Langley property developer Mark Chandler has been sentenced to six years in prison in California and ordered to pay back $1.7 million he bilked from investors a decade ago.
Chandler had pleaded guilty to one count of wire fraud.
The sentence was longer than that sought by prosecutors, who asked for a little over four years based on sentencing guidelines.
Judge Percy Anderson handed down the decision on Monday from a Los Angeles courtroom while Chandler appeared by video due to the pandemic.
Around 2009 to 2011, Chandler was the prime mover behind a supposed development on Hill Street in Los Angeles, intended to turn a parking lot into a condo.
The project collapsed, and multiple victims who had invested or loaned money to Chandler lost everything. Several victims had put up homes or other property as collateral for him, and they lost that property when Chandler defaulted on loans.
The crime itself was serious, the prosecution argued in its filing with the court.
“Over the course of nearly two years, defendant [Chandler] executed a fraudulent scheme that caused considerable losses to a significant number of victims.”
He repeatedly lied and forged documents to dupe his investors.
Chandler’s previous criminal history in California also came up in the sentencing argument – prosecutors noted that he was actually on probation during the fraud from a 2009 conviction in that state for spousal battery and unlawful entry.
Despite this, Chandler’s lawyers asked for a sentence of time served, or about 18 months. He’s been behind bars awaiting his day in court since he was extradited to California from British Columbia in late 2019.
Chandler’s lawyers argued that the financial loss of his victims was “overstated.”
The prosecution objected to that in its sentencing recommendation to the judge, noting that one victim later declared bankruptcy.
Chandler has been ordered to pay restitution of $1.7 million.
In their sentencing arguments, the prosecutors noted that “defendant claims to have made substantial sums between 2015 and 2018. His spouse also made a considerable sum in 2018.”
However, since 2017 Chandler has been buried under a mountain of lawsuits in B.C.
His long-delayed Murrayville House condo project was the target of many of the lawsuits, but between 2015 and 2019, Chandler also had interests in multiple other development properties around Langley, and in a golf course near Merritt – he was sued over not paying for equipment for the course.
After the Murrayville House project went into receivership, it was discovered that some units in the property had actually be promised to different buyers or investors two, three, or in one case, four times.
All of the people who had put deposits down hoping to buy one of the condos lost their money when the pre-sale agreements were cancelled by the B.C. courts.
Chandler’s creditors have used lawsuits to target multiple houses in Langley, Surrey, and the Interior owned by Chandler, his wife, and various numbered companies that they control.
Chandler has spent the last 20 years moving back and forth between Canada and the United States.
In 2000, he was charged with 13 counts, including theft, fraud, and forgery in Arizona, and was deported to Canada after pleading guilty to one count of theft and being ordered to pay $189,550 in restitution.
His next property venture, in B.C., dissolved in lawsuits and acrimony in 2006.
Court records show he vanished from Canada sometime around 2007, when he vanished from a rented home leaving behind unpaid bills. He was accused in a civil case of removing furniture, including a piano, from an opulent home he was renting in Vancouver at the time.
Although Chandler’s Murrayville House project was under investigation by local RCMP for a time, he has never been criminally charged or convicted in Canada.
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