Governor Andrew M. Cuomo today announced the license suspension of three real estate brokers and their respective brokerages, as well as three real estate sales agents, for illegally collecting broker fees from innocent and unsuspecting victims. An investigation by the New York State Department of State concluded that the brokers and sales agents engaged in fraudulent behavior after taking monies from New York City Human Resources Administration (HRA) clients, specifically HIV/AIDS victims, in violation of contractual agreements with the HRA.
"State government does not tolerate dishonest real estate representatives who target vulnerable or unsuspecting individuals for illegal profit," Governor Cuomo said. "This type of behavior cannot be allowed to continue causing financial and emotional hardship to our residents, and I urge all New Yorkers to remain vigilant about their rights, and report any and all violations immediately so that we can make sure those who do not play by the rules are held responsible."
"New York State will not allow real estate professionals to take advantage of New Yorkers," said Secretary of State Cesar A. Perales. "We have ensured full restitution to the victims of these illegal activities. We will continue to pursue those who engage in fraud against our State's residents."
The suspended realtors had previously entered into a contract with HRA agreeing to negotiate the placement of their clients into apartments within the New York metropolitan area. The contract required the realtors to accept 50% of the monthly rent as the entire broker's fee for said transactions. The contract clearly stated that the HRA applicant/client was not responsible for any monies in excess of the agreed upon broker's fee. During the course of the real estate transactions, the realtors demanded extra commission fees from the tenants before allowing them to move into their apartments.
After an internal investigation, HRA referred these cases to the New York State Department of State. The Department's Division of Licensing Services conducted a full investigation and concluded that the realtors were in violation of a contractual agreement with the agency and had engaged in acts of misconduct and untrustworthiness. The realtors have all entered into consent orders with the Department's Division of Licensing Services requiring full restitution of monies to victims and prohibiting them from operating as real estate professionals for a 3-month period.
Suspended brokerages and agents:
Jose Centti, trade name broker, America Real Estate brokerage, Whitestone, NY
Wayne Courtney, corporate broker, Wayco Realty Inc., Bronx, NY
Owen K. Thompson, real estate salesperson, Wayco Realty Inc., Bronx, NY
Margie Baraket, real estate salesperson, Re Max Liberty Inc., Ozone Park, NY
Samuel Pappy, corporate broker, Chris T. Land Realty Inc., Bronx, NY
Madeline Trillo, real estate salesperson, Chris T. Land Realty Inc., Bronx, NY
The New York State Department of State is charged with the regulation of real estate brokers and real estate salespersons and with the enforcement of Article 12-A of the Real Property Law.