Projects

The Long Wait: For many homeowners mortgage relief can’t come fast enough

March 2013 – May 2013

Image by Anthony Bolante

Image by Anthony Bolante

Martin Rhymes is in the midst of a yearlong ordeal to keep from losing his home to foreclosure. Rhymes’ story illustrates the lingering impact of an historic housing crash and of the mistakes made by many borrowers — but also by their lenders. And it shows how banks so far have fallen short of granting relief to troubled homeowners, despite a government settlement stipulating they do just that.

Federal bank rules leave legal marijuana businesses with no place to stash their cash

April 2013 – June 2013

washington-marijana logoHow can a legitimate business owner get cash generated from marijuana manufacturing and sales into the banking system without violating federal money-laundering laws? My in-depth reporting takes a behind-the scene look at efforts by state banking regulators to solve the dilemma that threatens Washington’s nascent legal marijuana industry.

Other People’s Money

July 2010 – June 2013

darren berg“Other People’s Money” was a series of in-depth stories about Seattle financier Darren Berg, who was convicted of fraud and money laundering for orchestrating a Ponzi scheme that cost investors $140 million. The series won a 2011 national Sigma Delta Chi Award.

Part 1:  Frat brothers, investors, partners — all of them trusted Darren Berg

The tragic story of how a skilled but flawed entrepreneur orchestrated one of the Northwest’s more spectacular financial collapses goes back to Berg’s fraternity days at the University of Oregon in the early 1980s

Part 2: Getting investors on board for his bold plans put Darren Berg in the lap of luxury

When Frederick Darren Berg arrived in Seattle in 1988, he was an unemployed college dropout with a failed business under his belt.

He also was a convicted felon, serving five years of probation for a bank fraud conviction in Portland. Berg struggled to keep up his $175 monthly restitution payments and mental health treatment, according to documents filed in court.

In Seattle, though, Berg took advantage of his fresh start, building a business empire that included a luxury bus company and a mortgage-backed securities business that attracted $200 million from investors.

Part 3: Darren Berg’s scramble to keep his empire afloat and investors from closing in

Berg scrambles to keep up with payments from his mortgage-backed Meridian funds as the economy tanked and worried investors wanted to cash out.

Shooting for Glory

August 2009 – November 2009

SeatteU Elgin BaylorThe making of a NCAA Division I basketball program at Seattle University, a small Jesuit school that bet millions on athletics to lift the school’s profile, attract elite students and ignite alumni and corporate donors. The expansion came during a brutal recession and as other parts of the school was forced to eliminate classes, trim teachers, freeze wages and reduce financial aid.

 

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