Today's cover story tells the tale of one "loan wolf," as we call him--a Pierce County banker who once sold more mortgages than almost anybody else in the country and allegedly committed a stunning amount of fraud in the process. His name is Shawn Portmann, and he headed the mortgage division of the now-closed Pierce Commercial Bank. A pending Pierce County lawsuit links the bank division with another infamous lender and self-declared "wolf" as well: Emiel Kandi.
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This is where Pierce Commercial came in, at least in the pending case, according to court documents and David Leen, an attorney representing a homeowner trying to save her house from foreclosure.
In that case, Kandi had loaned $12,000 to a Puyallup woman named Clarissa Martin, who had inherited a house already in foreclosure from her dying mother. When Martin missed a payment, Kandi claimed title to the house, according to Martin's complaint.
Through his company Diversified Holdings, Kandi then sold the house to a man named Khalid Alajeel for $415,000--$150,000 more than its actual value, according to the complaint.
Pierce Commercial's mortgage division--PC Home Loans--supplied Alajeel with the necessary loan. According to court documents and Leen, the loan application was fraught with the kind of mistruths described in today's cover story. Alajeel--convicted on a drug charge the year before in Nevada--was listed as earning $11,694 a month as an employee of a company that didn't exist.
Alajeel's signature was also forged, according to findings issued last month by Judge Diana Kiesel. Leen says he believes the ex-con was a straw buyer for Kandi. The hard-money lender, who of late had become a figure in the medical marijuana world, did not return requests for comment.
In issuing her findings, the judge invalidated Alajeel's title to the property. Martin, who refused to leave the house, now must win a separate proceeding to stop foreclosure.
It should be noted that Alajeel's loan, submitted in the fall of 2008, was not handled by Portmann at PC Home Loans. Indeed, he had left shortly before. But as PC Home Loans former manager Chris DiCugno noted in testimony for a different case, the corporate climate Portmann created valued volume over truth. "Just doing loans, getting as many loans done as possible . . . that was what [was] most important," DiCugno said.