Stillaguamish Tribe says it was bilked out of millions of dollars

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by JIM FORMAN / KING 5 News

Bio | Email | Follow: @Jimformanking5

KING5.com

Posted on February 25, 2010 at 11:22 PM

When Stillaguamish tribal leaders found out they were about to buy some commercial condos in Arlington for $2,750,000, something seemed wrong with the deal.

Now in a lawsuit filed in Federal Court, they say there was. The sale price the suit contends was $850,000 over market value. 

One example of what the tribe alleges were shady land deals that has cost them 10s of millions of dollars.

According to the lawsuit, the alleged real estate conspiracy was formed back in 2001 when David Nelson and Nathan Chapman became the Stillaguamish Tribe's exclusive real estate agents.

The next year, tribal leaders Edward L. Goodridge and his son Edward Goodridge Jr., both senior tribal leadership and also named in the suit, notified Chicago Title that they had full authority to sign real estate contracts on behalf of the Tribe. 

The Tribe's lawyers say they set the stage for Nelson, Chapman and the Goodridges to buy and sell property without the full tribal board necessarily knowing or consenting, violating the Stillaguamish tribal constitution.

The suit claims Nelson and Chapman working through various companies would buy up land the tribe might be interested in, and then flip it, selling it to the tribe at hugely inflated prices. The allegation is the real estate agents would then split the profits with the Goodridges.

The tribe says those profits were staggering. In December 2007, the tribe accuses Nelson and Chapman of orchestrating the sale of a vacant lot on Smokey Point Boulevard for $2,568,000 - more than $1,350,000 over market value.

And it goes on, the suit claims, $300,000, $550,000, $660,000, $775,000, on up to $1,900,000 over market value for a string of properties.

Lawyers say it adds up to at least $30,000,000.

On behalf of the Tribe, lawyer Alexandra K. Smith of Lane Powell issued this statement to KING 5 News: "The Tribe has suffered significant damage at the hands of persons named as defendants in the lawsuit filed today. The Tribe conducted a comprehensive investigation to uncover the facts set forth in the Complaint and wants to hold those who harmed the Tribe accountable. We believe the details are in the Complaint and speak for themselves."

Despite efforts, KING 5 News did not hear back from any of those named as defendants in the suit.

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