As we've seen over the last couple of years, Emiel Kandi is something of a jack of all trades. He once operated as a "hard-money" lender to down-on-their-luck homeowners, charging exorbitant interest rates and then seizing their properties when they failed to pay. More recently, as a Sunday Seattle Times piece reminds us, he moved into the medical marijuana industry.
Now, he's also, according to a Seattle Weekly source, under investigation by the FBI.The source, who is connected with the real estate industry, has had a bunch of documents subpoenaed by the feds that relate to loans made by Kandi. Our source can't say more, and FBI spokesperson Ayn Dietrich could only say that the agency was "aware of allegations" against Kandi and regularly reviews accusations of misconduct.
But it's a fair bet that the feds--under pressure since the housing bust to come up with cases related to unscrupulous mortgage lending--are looking into the kind of case we described last year. That involved a $12,000 loan Kandi made to a Puyallup woman named Clarissa Martin, who inherited a house in foreclosure from her late mother. When Martin missed a payment, Kandi seized the property and then sold it at an inflated price, according to a lawsuit Martin later filed.
That might sound shady enough, but the lawsuit suggested that much of the paperwork on the sale was bogus. For one thing, the listed buyer was cited as earning a six-figure income at a company that didn't exist. The buyer, a man named Khalid Alajeel, had been convicted on a drug charge the year before in Nevada.
And who supplied the loan that supposedly went to Alajeel? The mortgage division of now defunct Pierce Commercial Bank, which was headed by renowned mortgage huckster Shawn Portmann.
Portmann, originally named in a 30-count federal indictment and the subject of a SW cover story, last month pleaded guilty to submitting false statements in loan applications. One has to wonder if the feds are now trying to make a similar case against Kandi.
Whether there's any tie-in with his medical marijuana dealings remain to be seen. It's also unclear what those dealings are at the moment. In 2010, as we reported at the time, Kandi was a visible player in Tacoma's medical marijuana scene. He headed a dispensary called the COBRA Medical Group, and tried to incite his peers into fighting the city "dictatorship" that was then threatening to shut down all such operations.
When SW called COBRA's old number yesterday, we got another organization, called Pharmacopia Collective. "We have not been COBRA Medical Group for over a year now," said the person at the other end of the phone, who identified herself only as Julie. "Emiel Kandi is not associated with us and we have no way of contacting him." SW was unable to reach Kandi for clarification.
If he is still active in medical marijuana, he's been quiet about it. Philip Dawdy, a medical marijuana activist, says he last talked to Kandi a couple years ago, when the dispensary owner was participating in a trade group Dawdy was then the spokesperson for. Around then, the Times ran an exposéof Kandi's hard-money lending practices. Dawdy says the now defunct trade group was considering kicking Kandi out. He resigned instead.
"Since then, I haven't seen him, talked to him or heard from him," Dawdy says. "Neither has almost anybody I know."