For Immediate Release - August 28, 2009

Attorney General Martha Coakley Reaches Settlement with Dedham Real Estate Company Resolving Allegations of Unlawful Real Estate Broker Practices

BOSTON - Attorney General Martha Coakley's Office reached a settlement with a Dedham real estate company and one of its employees, resolving allegations that they unfairly discriminated against a prospective homebuyer, causing her proposed home purchase not to go forward. The Assurance of Discontinuance, filed in Suffolk Superior Court on August 25, 2009, against Discover Real Estate Corporation and its employee, Virginia E. Bethoney, alleges that the company and the employee violated state anti-discrimination laws by denying an African-American woman the opportunity to negotiate the purchase of a home in Dedham.

"It is against the law to deny someone the opportunity to purchase a home because of their race," said Attorney General Martha Coakley. "Prospective qualified buyers should have every chance to realize the dream of homeownership."

According to the allegations in the prospective buyer's complaint filed with the Massachusetts Commission Against Discrimination, the real estate company failed to communicate the seller's response to the prospective buyer's offer and refused to negotiate with the prospective buyer's broker. Under Massachusetts law, it is illegal to refuse to negotiate the sale of property with a person due to the person's race.

The Assurance of Discontinuance requires Discover Real Estate and its employees to abide by federal and state fair housing and anti-discrimination laws; receive fair housing training; notify the Civil Rights Division of any discrimination complaints for the next three years; and pay $2,500 to the prospective buyer.

This matter was handled by Assistant Attorney General Patricio S. Rossi of Attorney General Coakley's Civil Rights Division.