Today’s news:

Whitestone real estate broker fleeced clients: Guv

TimesLedger Newspapers

The state of New York has suspended licenses of six real estate sales agents and brokers, including one from Whitestone and another from Ozone Park, for what state officials said was illegally collecting broker fees from innocent and unsuspecting victims.

Gov. Andrew Cuomo said an investigation by the state Department of State concluded that the brokers and sales agents engaged in fraudulent behavior “after taking monies” from city Human Resources Administration 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,” 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.”

The suspended people were Jose Centti, broker of American Real Estate in Whitestone and Margie Baraket, real estate saleswoman at R. Max Liberty Inc. in Ozone Park.

“New York state will not allow real estate professionals to take advantage of New Yorkers,” said Secretary of State Cesar 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.”

State officials said 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 percent of the monthly rent as the entire broker’s fee for the 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 real estate transactions, the realtors demanded extra commission fees from the tenants before allowing them to move into their apartment, the Department of State probe found.

After an internal investigation, HRA referred the cases to the 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 Division of Licensing Services requiring full restitution of monies to victims and prohibiting them from operating as real estate professionals for three months.

The other people whose licenses were suspended include: Wayne Courtney, corporate broker, Wayco Realty Inc., in the Bronx; Owen Thompson, real estate salesman, Wayco Realty Inc., the Bronx; Samuel Pappy, corporate broker, at Chris T. Land Realty Inc., the Bronx; and Madeline Trillo, real estate saleswoman, Chris T. Land Realty Inc., the Bronx.

Reach contributing writer Philip Newman by e-mail at or phone at 718-260-4536.

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Reader Feedback

Dianne Stromfeld from floral park says:
Regarding your article about real estate licensees fleecing the pubic; please do not refer to licensees as realtors. The term REALTOR is used only by members of the National Association of Realtors. The people in the article are licensees and may or may not be REALTORS. By improperly referring to them by a trademearked name, you are tarring over a million licensees nationally with a dirty brush. Also, your headline uses the term broker and yet your article describes both brokers and salespeople. Please do better research when using descriptive words. Thank you, Dianne Stromfeld, REALTOR
Sept. 8, 2013, 1:48 pm
brain from NY, NY says:
just my own personal opinion, but people who operate like this should be banned for life from performing real estate services or any service related to real estate.
Sept. 30, 2013, 12:05 pm

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