Former city lawyer charged in fraud case

A former lawyer who once practised in Red Deer, Lacombe and Bentley is one of three men charged in a $6.7-million mortgage fraud.

A former lawyer who once practised in Red Deer, Lacombe and Bentley is one of three men charged in a $6.7-million mortgage fraud.

Roy W.E. Elander, 62, faces 22 charges following a six-year RCMP investigation. The charges were announced on Monday by the Edmonton RCMP Commercial Crime Section.

Two of the men are from Edmonton and Elander now lives in Summerland, B.C.

Allan Dawson MacMullin, 50, and Josip Seremet, 34, both of Edmonton, also face charges. MacMullin faces 41 charges and Seremet faces 29 charges.

All three men are to make first appearances in Edmonton court on May 20.

Elander practised in Central Alberta until a couple of years ago, in criminal and civil law.

He was subsequently put on the Alberta Law Society’s suspended list.

On Feb. 25, a society hearing committee found Elander’s conduct to be deserving of sanction. The citations involved failing to respond on a timely basis and in a complete and appropriate manner, to communications from the law society.

He was also found to have misled or attempted to mislead certain individuals, failed to honour undertakings, failed to be punctual in fulfilling commitments made to a client, failed to respond on a timely basis to communications from that client and failed to keep that client informed as to the progress of his matter.

The law society committee ordered, under the Legal Profession Act, that Elander’s membership be suspended for four months. The committee also ordered Elander to pay costs of the hearing, assessed at $8,725.

The fraud charges are the result of an investigation involving 97 properties and 15 mortgage lenders, RCMP said.

The investigation began in early 2005 and during the next six years, RCMP scoured 30,000 pages of documents connected to 115 witnesses.

A typical mortgage fraud will look like an investment scheme for the average consumer, RCMP Sgt. Terry Schmidt said. “Usually, they’re approached to invest in real estate . . . but they don’t have to do anything at all except sign the papers for the mortgage,” Schmidt said earlier.

The fraudster usually has an answer for every question, making the deal appear legitimate, he said.

Mortgage fraud can do irreversible damage to victims’ credit ratings, RCMP said. The victims are also often left owning a grossly overvalued property.

Schmidt advised people who are in the market to buy a home or make a real estate investment to consult with the Real Estate Council of Alberta, which provides a list of fraud warning signs for consumers.