For Immediate Release - October 29, 2004

State Board Disciplines Ten Real Estate Agents

The Division of Professional Licensure and the Massachusetts Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons ("Board") recently issued disciplinary actions against six real estate brokers and four salespersons.

"The Board will not tolerate unethical or unlawful conduct by its licensees. These cases demonstrate this Board's commitment to protecting the public," said Anne L. Collins, Director of the Division of Professional Licensure.

The Board took action against the following individuals:

Augustine N. Banks of Lawrence: The Board entered into a consent agreement with Banks, suspending his license to practice as a real estate salesperson for one-year, effective September 20, 2004. Banks failed to inform the Board that he had been previously convicted in U.S District Court for making false statements and claims.

Fred I. Fischel of Taunton: The Board revoked Fischel's real estate broker license after finding that Fischel represented himself and conducted business as a licensed broker for a 22-month period with an expired license. Fischel also violated licensing laws by accessing an escrow account while unlicensed.

John F. Handel of Hyannis: The Board issued a default judgment and final decision revoking Handel's right to renew his real estate broker license. Handel failed to respond to the Board's complaint and a prosecutor's Motion for Default. Handel had been previously convicted in U.S. District Court for mail fraud.

Mark A. Lebeaux of Norton: The Board issued a default judgment and final decision revoking Lebeaux's real estate salesperson license. Lebeaux misrepresented his authority by advertising property for sale as a real estate salesman. He also violated Board regulations by failing to provide proper agency disclosure.

Harvey W. Rain of Framingham: The Board issued a default decision revoking the right to renew or reinstate Rain's real estate broker license. Rain failed to deposit and maintain clients' funds in an escrow account, failed to return clients' funds within a reasonable amount of time and commingled these funds with his own.

Peter J. Regan of Andover: The Board issued a summary decision revoking Regan's right to renew his real estate broker license. The Board's action was based on Regan's conviction on 54 counts of embezzlement and willful misapplication of funds as a bank officer.

David J. Valego, II of Brighton: The Board issued a default decision revoking Valego's license for committing a substantial misrepresentation in renting an apartment to a tenant not reflected on the lease for the rental unit. Valego also failed to return money to a landlord in a timely fashion.

Robert Whitten of Middleboro: The Board entered into a consent agreement with Whitten, suspending his real estate salesperson license after Whitten admitted that he engaged in the business of real estate with an expired license.

Robert Williams of Westfield: The Board revoked Williams' real estate broker license after finding that Williams violated licensing law and Board regulations by failing to return deposit funds in a timely manner, failing to maintain client funds in an escrow account and commingling client deposit monies with his own personal and business accounts.

Stephen Winokur of Plymouth: The Board entered into a consent agreement with Winokur, suspending his license for two years, effective September 20, 2004. On three instances, Winokur failed to return deposits totaling $130,000. Winokur was ordered to settle pending complaints by returning client deposit funds. The Board may summarily revoke Winokur's license if he is found to violate any terms of the consent agreement during his suspension.

The Board of Registration of Real Estate Brokers and Salespersons ("Board") licenses approximately 77,900 real estate brokers and salespersons throughout the Commonwealth. In fiscal year 2004, the Board received 294 new complaints and resolved 322 complaints. The Board held 19 formal hearings, entered into 35 consent agreements, suspended 22 licenses, accepted the voluntary surrender of eight licenses, revoked 18 licenses, placed five licenses on probation and issued one stayed suspension. The Board was also able to secure consumer refunds totaling $18,800.

The Division of Professional Licensure is an agency within the Office of Consumer Affairs and Business Regulation. It is responsible for ensuring the integrity of the licensing process for 43 trades and professions regulated by 29 boards of registration, the continual updating of licenses for approximately 330,000 licenses, and the maintenance of databases related to licensing, enforcement, and revenue collection. In fiscal year 2004, the Division of Professional Licensure imposed record levels of professional discipline including 829 disciplinary actions, more than $128,000 in fines and recovered over $25,000 in refunds for consumers.

Consumers are urged to visit the Division's web site at www.mass.gov/reg. Select the "check a license" option to determine whether a professional is licensed and in good standing before doing business with him/her.