A former Langley condo developer has had his sentencing in a California real estate fraud case delayed due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Mark Chandler was to have had a sentencing hearing in a Los Angeles area courtroom at the end of December.
But a document filed with the judge in the case outlines multiple disruptions to that schedule.
In early November, the detention centre where Chandler has been held since he was extradited from B.C. was hit with a COVID-19 outbreak, and multiple floors were shut down.
Prisoners were kept in their cells 24/7 to avoid spreading the virus further, and Chandler wasn’t available for interviews with probation officers for a pre-sentencing report, even via video interview.
Then Chandler’s own defense lawyer, Michael Severo, contracted COVID in December.
A pre-sentencing report interview was held in January and the report is expected to be finished on Jan. 19.
A sentencing hearing for Chandler is now scheduled for Feb. 8.
On Oct. 16, 2020, Chandler pleaded guilty to a single charge of wire fraud in California. He had been facing six charges after an FBI investigation into 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. Instead, lenders and investors in the project saw their money vanish, and some lost personally-owned properties they had put up as collateral for Chandler’s loans.
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 were listed in the plea.
A significant amount of cash passed into Chandler’s hands during the two-year period in California.
In total, he caused losses of at least $1.57 million to his California victims.
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 almost grind to a halt as pre-sale purchasers anxiously saw multiple completion deadlines pass by.
The project was eventually placed under the management of a trustee and completed in 2019. 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, many targeting one of the three homes he or his wife owned, including one in Langley’s High Point neighbourhood.