Two real estate agents face federal charges for allegedly defrauding nearly two dozen investors. The duo are accused of raising funds to renovate an apartment building in West Seattle but instead using the money for their personal expenses and other businesses.
A federal grand jury indicted the once-married pair, 58-year-old Paul Waln and 54-year-old Tamara King, this week on charges of conspiracy, wire fraud and money laundering. The FBI investigated the case, according to the U.S. attorney for the Western District of Washington.
The government alleges that the couple repeatedly transferred money from the investment fund, Halcyon, to other businesses and personal accounts until there was nothing left to repay Halcyon investors, then lied to investors about the reason for the financial losses.
The pair, who previously lived in Bellevue and Kirkland, got married in 2013 and divorced in 2018, according to prosecutors. Waln now lives in Dallas, and King lives in Toledo, Ohio, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
Brad Barshis, an attorney representing Waln, said Waln “maintains his innocence at this time,” but declined to comment further. King and her attorney could not be reached for comment Friday.
According to the indictment, Waln raised more than $2 million from investors between 2009 and 2013, promising to use the money to buy, renovate and manage a 23-unit apartment building in West Seattle and potentially other properties. He required investors to keep their money in the investment fund for 10 years and promised to repay them after that time, plus an estimated annual return of 20%, prosecutors say. Another company of Waln’s was set to manage the investment fund for a monthly management fee.
In total, 22 people, mostly in Seattle, invested, according to the U.S. Attorney’s Office. Halcyon bought the West Seattle building in October 2009.
Waln and King began their personal relationship in the summer of 2012 and planned to “work together on real estate projects,” according to the indictment. They agreed to put their joint businesses in King’s name because Waln owed business, personal and tax debts, according to the indictment. King allegedly formed a new company in 2013 and the pair made that company the manager of the investment fund Halcyon, entitled to the monthly management fee, according to the indictment.
Starting in 2014, the couple allegedly began transferring money from Halcyon to their other businesses and personal bank accounts.
The pair sold the West Seattle building in 2015 and made about $2.4 million, but allegedly transferred that money to other businesses and personal bank accounts without disclosing those transfers to investors.
Prosecutors say Waln and King used some of the building’s sale revenue to build two homes in Kirkland, but stopped paying contractors on that project, sold it unfinished and again diverted the money from that sale.
By December 2018, the couple had “appropriated for themselves all of Halcyon’s assets,” the indictment claims. “Defendants knew that the original 10-year investment period was about to expire, and that members would soon expect to be repaid.”
Waln allegedly emailed investors telling them the contractor on the Kirkland project had been diagnosed with lung cancer, forcing the investment fund to sell that project “as is” at a loss. Prosecutors say Waln assured investors the investment fund still expected to give investors 20% returns but needed two or three more years. According to the indictment, the contractor was never diagnosed with cancer.
In October 2019, King finally told investors the fund’s projects “failed despite good intentions for successful outcomes.”
“Unfortunately, due to the losses from multiple failed projects, there is no financial capital left to return any of your investment funds to you,” she wrote, according to the indictment.
Waln and King are set to appear on the indictment in federal court in Seattle Thursday morning.