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August 22nd, 2007 JAMES PITKIN | News Stories
 

Russian Roulette

The man convicted of scamming Portland’s public campaign finance system fires off his own accusations.

     
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A HOUSE DIVIDED: (TOP) Sammis’ $619,490 home in Sellwood. (BOTTOM) Sammis’ mugshot from last year’s arrest.

Lucinda Tate has passed into political obscurity. Emilie Boyles remains exiled in Montana But the man accused in a highly publicized trial of forging signatures for their failed 2006 City Council campaigns is back on the radar, this time as the accuser.

It’s unrelated to his political shenanigans. But Volodymyr Golovan, the Slavic community leader convicted of 10 felonies earlier this summer in connection with Tate’s campaign, filed suit Aug. 14 in Multnomah County Circuit Court against American Title Insurance Company of Oregon Inc.

Golovan’s lawsuit accuses American Title of wrongly returning the collateral on a $25,800 loan he made last year to Mark Sammis, a Portland businessman with a history of fraud and theft convictions. Jay Dobson, corporate counsel for American Title, declined to comment.

As head of the Russian and Ukrainian chambers of commerce in Portland, Golovan did business with Sammis’ now-defunct network marketing company, PACN LLC. It was at a PACN luncheon that Golovan says he met Bruce Broussard, the perennially unsuccessful political candidate who put Golovan in touch with Boyles and Tate.

It seems Golovan has a habit of making the wrong kind of friends, entering into questionable deals with those friends and then getting burned by them. That’s what he testified happened with Broussard and Boyles, and now he says it’s happened with Sammis as well.

“If you sat through the criminal trial, he’s a pretty trusting guy,” Golovan attorney David Hall says. According to the lawsuit, Golovan loaned Sammis the $25,800 on July 19, 2006, despite the fact Sammis pleaded guilty in 2004 to four counts of theft. Never mind, Sammis agreed to pay Golovan back in 60 days. But the suit says he never did.

As collateral, Sammis put up the deed to his 78-year-old mother’s house in Sellwood. The house, which Sammis and his wife share with Sammis’ mother, is valued at $619,490.

The deed went into an escrow account at American Title. Sammis tells WW that Golovan was supposed to broker a $500,000 loan but failed to get the money. So an American Title agent met Sammis at a downtown Baja Fresh restaurant and gave him back the deed, he says.

Sammis denies allegations he duped Golovan. “Volodymyr is very sophisticated,” he says. Golovan did not return repeated phone calls for comment.

Sammis and Golovan first met in 2005, when Sammis was starting up PACN and Golovan founded the two chambers of commerce. Sammis’ company connected real-estate agents with clients and vendors.

Golovan helped PACN members tap into the Slavic community, and they became members of Golovan’s chambers. The arrangement worked well for both men until PACN went out of business in April 2006.

Those were the days before Golovan’s shady political deals came to light. Golovan admitted to forging signatures needed to get public financing for Tate’s campaign, which ended when a filing error disqualified her. Golovan went on to work for Boyles.

The signatures Golovan gave Boyles from Slavic immigrants helped land her $145,000 in public financing, and Golovan got paid $15,000 for his trouble. Boyles still owes Portland taxpayers $104,256.51 she misspent, and now works in eastern Montana for a community TV/radio station.

At trial, Golovan painted himself as an innocent who was blackmailed by Boyles and Broussard, allegations they both denied. He was acquitted July 2 of charges connected with Boyles’ campaign but was convicted for forgery and identity theft in the Tate campaign. He’s scheduled for sentencing Sept. 4 and faces up to 50 years in prison and $1.25 million in fines.

Sammis has his own troubled history. A federal judge sentenced him in 1991 to five years of probation and ordered him to pay $528,496 restitution for bilking 26 people on a bogus investment in a Central Oregon cattle ranch.

In 2004, Sammis pleaded guilty in Multnomah County Circuit Court to four counts of first-degree theft. Prosecutors say he took more than $20,000 from an elderly man named Charles Breeding, saying he’d invest it.

Sammis denies cheating Breeding and says he’s working to pay the man back. “This was a great friendship. I never took a dime from him,” Sammis says.

Like Golovan, Sammis is looking at time behind bars. He was sentenced July 12 to 21 days in jail following his arrest last fall for violating probation by leaving the state. He must report to jail by Aug. 28.

 
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