WOODLAND HILLS—On Friday, January 22, the U.S. Department of Justice announced that a Calabasas-based real estate developer has been indicted in a bankruptcy fraud case that alleges he laundered funds through shell companies in order to hide them from his creditors.
Mark Handel, 66, has been charged in a nine-count indictment with five counts of money laundering, two counts of concealing assets belonging to a bankruptcy estate, one count of making a false statement in a bankruptcy case, and one count of falsely testifying under oath at a bankruptcy proceeding.
According to the indictment, Handel worked as a developer of residential and commercial real estate for more than 30 years. In April 2015, Handel filed a chapter 11 petition in United States Bankruptcy Court in Woodland Hills and subsequently made false statements to avoid debts that exceeded $10 million.
It is further alleged that Handel formed multiple corporations and limited liability companies to conceal his income and his involvement in real estate development projects. Handel purposely failed to put his name on the corporations to disguise and conceal his business activities. The indictment further alleges that Handel used his wife and others as nominee owners, managers, and partners of the LLCs that he controlled.
One corporation, DTMM, which Handel told his business associates and friends stood for “Don’t Touch My Money” was allegedly used by Handel to conceal the proceeds of his illegal activity. Handel used DTMM for all his personal expenses and registered it under his wife’s name, according to the indictment.
The indictment further alleges that Handel willfully made false statements under penalty of perjury on his initial and amended bankruptcy petitions, as well as during a creditors’ hearing.
Throughout the case, Handel allegedly lied by stating he has been unemployed for years and had no income or business. Handel maintained a financial interest in properties in Alameda, Orange, and Los Angeles counties and according to the indictment received $4,644,529 in income from 2008 to 2016 as part of a real estate deal.
Handel would face a maximum sentence of 120 years in prison if convicted as charged. His arraignment is scheduled for February 16 in United States District Court in downtown Los Angeles.