Former Langley condo developer Mark Chandler has entered a guilty plea to a single charge of wire fraud in a California courtroom.
Chandler was facing six charges, all linked to the Hill Street project, a real estate development that Chandler promoted and sought financing for between December 2009 and October 2011 in Los Angeles.
However, the project never came to fruition, and no high rise condo and commercial project was ever built on the site.
“In addition to soliciting victims to give him cash, defendant convinced victims to give him loans, obtain loans from others and give the proceeds to the defendant, and use their personally-owned properties as collateral for loans obtained by the defendant.”
The victims believed they would secure either a high rate of return as investors in the project, or that they would obtain condo units in the completed Hill Street project, or both, the plea deal says.
During the scheme, Chandler told people he had already invested $1.5 million towards the purchase of the site, that the current owners had agreed to finance $3 million towards the purchase of the land, and that he had secured a $3.5 million loan from a New York firm.
None of that was true.
A signature on a letter about the New York loan was forged, the owners of the site had not agreed to invest, and checks Chandler showed, supposedly made out to him, had been forged at his orders.
At least 15 victims of the scheme are listed in the plea.
A significant amount of cash passed into Chandler’s hands during the two-year period in California.
He received $319,000 in cash, total, from a group of eight would-be investors in the project.
Another group of four people loaned Chandler and another person loaned Chandler $550,000, with the understanding that they would be paid back $625,000 after 120 days.
A total of $433,714.33 was moved to accounts of Chandler and people he designated, and he defaulted on the loan.
Five of the six properties that were collateral for the loan were foreclosed on.
He also received $450,000 in two loans from a mortgage firm, with another victim’s property as collateral, and defaulted on that loan.
Smaller loans included $9,250 drawn on another loan backed up by a victim’s property, again leading to default.
Finally, four victims cashed bad checks on Chandler’s behalf, netting him $155,762.56.
In total, he causes losses of at least $1.57 million.
Chandler signed the plea deal on Oct. 16. He had been scheduled to go on trial on Oct. 27.
Chandler was extradited to the United States after a multi-year legal battle to remain in Canada ended in late 2019 when the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear his case.
In Canada, Chandler was most well known for his involvement in the Murrayville House condo project, which under his ownership saw construction slow and almost grind to a halt as pre-sale purchasers anxiously saw several completion deadlines pass by.
The project was eventually placed under the management of a trustee and completed last year. Creditors have been battling in court over who will receive the proceeds of condo sales. Pre-sale buyers had all their sales cancelled by a judge in 2018.
The Langley RCMP announced an investigation of the Murrayville House project, but no charges were ever laid.
According to the Bowra Group, the receiver for the property, the 91 units in Murrayville House were sold more than 140 times. One unit was allegedly promised to four people.
Chandler has also been the target of multiple lawsuits in Canada.