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Wednesday, January 10, 2018

Realtor sentenced for violating lead-based paint disclosure rules

All WNY News     Wednesday, January 10, 2018    

STAFF REPORTS



BUFFALO -- Maureen S. Walck, 73 of Lockport, who was convicted of failure to provide lead paint hazard warning notice, was sentenced to time served, fined $1,000 and ordered to pay restitution to the victim in the amount of $53,326.07 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Aaron J. Mango, who handled the case, stated that the defendant, a real estate broker with RealtyUSA, executed a contract on January 15, 2014, with the owner of a residence in Lockport, which gave the defendant the exclusive right to sell the residence. The residence was built in approximately 1900, and the owner was aware that lead-based paint hazards were present. The owner informed Walck of the hazards and showed a copy of the lead-based paint inspection reports to the defendant.

On January 25, 2014, a prospective buyer made an offer to purchase the residence.  As part of the sales contract, a lead-based paint rider and disclosure form was included. Walck indicated that records pertaining to lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards at the residence were provided to the prospective buyer. After an inspection of the residence, and after reviewing the lead-based paint records, the prospective buyer cancelled the sales contract.

On February 6, 2014, a second prospective buyer made an offer to purchase the residence. As part of the sales contract, another lead-based paint rider was included. However, unlike the rider with the first prospective buyers, Walck indicated that the seller had no knowledge of lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards at the residence and that there were no records pertaining to lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards for the residence. The second prospective buyers purchased the residence and closed on the residence on April 11, 2014.  In September 2015, the new owners learned that their child was diagnosed with lead poisoning.

“The legal maxim of caveat emptor or ‘let the buyer beware’ has no applicability where, as here, the seller’s agent withholds information from the buyer notwithstanding her legal obligation to disclose the same,” stated U.S. Attorney Kennedy. “Indeed, the more apt lesson to be gleaned from this prosecution might well be ‘let the artful agent beware.’”

The sentencing is the result of an investigation on the part of Special Agents of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Criminal Investigation Division, under the direction of Special Agent-In-Charge Tyler Amon, and Special Agents of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, Office of Inspector General, Criminal Investigations Division, under the direction of Resident Agent-in-Charge Jeffrey K. Stachowiak.

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