A Langley businessman facing fraud charges is expected to go on trial this October after delays due to the coronavirus pandemic.
Mark Chandler was extradited from British Columbia to California last year after the Supreme Court of Canada refused to hear an appeal from him in October. That exhausted his legal options after a four-year battle to avoid being sent to trial in the U.S.
Judge Percy Anderson of the California Central District Court has ordered a change in trial dates from mid-August to Oct. 27. A pre-trial conference is now scheduled for Oct. 19, and a motions hearing on Sept. 28.
Chandler is best known in Langley as the developer of the long-delayed Murrayville House condo project near Langley Memorial Hospital.
The condos were completed in 2018, more than a year behind schedule, under the supervision of a court-appointed trustee, after the project found itself buried in lawsuits by various creditors. It was placed in receivership, and court battles over the proceeds of the project continued into this year.
Chandler took over the Murrayville House project at an early stage of its construction, and from 2015 he began actively and energetically promoting pre-sales of units in the site.
The developer’s Newmark Group of companies also controlled the Sagebrush golf course in Merritt and multiple developable properties in Langley.
But the Murrayville House project saw repeated delays, and by 2017, the project owed $62 million to various creditors – while the building was worth less than half that. In addition, the Bowra Group, the trustee for the project, found that the 91 units had been “sold” 149 times. A total of 31 units had been sold twice, 12 sold three times, and one unit four times.
Chandler’s lawyers characterized the sales as “loans.”
The golf course never re-opened, and lawsuits targeted both Chandler’s development sites and homes he and his wife owned in Langley, Surrey, and the Okanagan.
But all the while during the development and lawsuits in Langley, Chandler was fighting a court battle to avoid being sent to the U.S.
In 2014, he’d been charged with fraud following an FBI investigation of a 2009-2011 development project in Los Angeles on Hill Street. The project never came to fruition, and eventually charges were laid, alleging that Chandler had defrauded a business partner and two investors.
After his arrest in Canada, Chandler had turned over his passports and been banned from leaving the country – though he used a British passport to take his family on a Christmas vacation to Mexico in 2016. His bail was almost tripled to $500,000 after authorities learned of the trip abroad.
Chandler had previously been convicted of one count of theft in Arizona in connection to real estate dealings. He was deported from the U.S. in 2003 after he pleaded guilty.
The developer has been involved in multiple high-profile real estate projects in British Columbia, but he has never been charged criminally in this country.