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RICHARD J. WAGNER v. COMMONWEALTH PENNSYLVANIA (06/06/89)

decided: June 6, 1989.

RICHARD J. WAGNER, PETITIONER,
v.
COMMONWEALTH OF PENNSYLVANIA, STATE REAL ESTATE COMMISSION, RESPONDENT



COUNSEL

Richard J. Wagner, Pottsville, petitioner pro se.

Steven Wennberg, Asst. Counsel, State Real Estate Com'n, Joyce McKeever, Chief Counsel, Professional and Occupational Affairs, Velma A. Boozer, Chief Counsel, Dept. of State, Harrisburg, for respondent.

Craig and Barry, JJ., and Blatt, Senior Judge.

Author: Barry

[ 126 Pa. Commw. Page 370]

Richard J. Wagner appeals an order of the State Real Estate Commission (Commission) which revoked his licenses as a broker, associate broker and salesperson.

[ 126 Pa. Commw. Page 371]

In May of 1985, the Commission issued a complaint and order to show cause why his licenses should not be revoked. The complaint charged Wagner with various violations of Section 604 of the Real Estate Licensing and Registration Act ("Licensing Act"), Act of February 19, 1980, P.L. 15, as amended, 63 P.S. § 455.604. Hearings were held, after which a hearing examiner recommended that Wagner's licenses be revoked. Wagner filed exceptions which were denied and the Commission revoked Wagner's licenses. This appeal followed.

The revocation of Wagner's licenses are based on the following two incidents. In late 1978, Wagner executed and recorded a "vow of poverty" in favor of the Basic Bible Church of America. That document stated in pertinent part that Wagner "do[es] hereby give . . . all of my . . . real property . . . to the Church . . ." (Board's adjudication and order, October 22, 1987, p. 6). In 1982, Wagner entered into an agreement of sale to convey certain real property*fn1 to Francis M. Hamerly and Leonard A. Hamerly. The agreement called for a June 16, 1982 closing and further declared that time was of the essence. At the time of signing the agreement, Wagner disclosed to the Hamerlys that certain liens encumbered the property which would be satisfied out of the sale proceeds; Wagner did not disclose the existence of the vow of poverty. The Hamerlys applied for title insurance at Wagner's suggestion but were informed by the title company that no insurance would be issued because of the liens and the vow of poverty. The Hamerlys granted Wagner an extension of the closing date so that he could obtain the necessary documents from the church to clear the title. Wagner pressed for settlement without that documentation by proposing a reduction in the sales price. The Hamerlys rejected the proposal after which Wagner refused to settle the deal. The Hamerlys sued in equity for specific performance and the Court of Common Pleas of

[ 126 Pa. Commw. Page 372]

Schuylkill County, after once dismissing the Hamerlys' complaint, entered a decree on August 7, 1984, requiring Wagner to convey the property.*fn2

In the second incident, Wagner signed an agreement of sale on December 8, 1982, promising to convey to Patrick and Cheryl James a lot for $5000. Settlement occurred that same day with Wagner delivering a deed in return for the full purchase price. Wagner never informed the Jameses of the vow of poverty or of various liens against the property. Wagner did assure the Jameses that no title problems existed. Wagner also did not inform the Jameses, first time buyers of real estate, that a title search was necessary to protect their interests. Finally, Wagner never explained an endorsement on the sales agreement which provided that the Jameses would take whatever title Wagner could give with no abatement in the purchase price. As of the former hearings in this matter, Wagner had neither cleared the title problems nor returned the Jameses' money.

The Commission concluded that Wagner had committed acts which are prohibited by Section 604(a) of the Licensing Act. First, it concluded that Wagner had made substantial misrepresentations in violation of Section 604(a)(1). Next, the Commission concluded that Wagner had made false promises "likely to influence, persuade or induce any person to enter into any contract when [the promisor] could not . . . keep such promise." 63 P.S. § 455.604(a)(2). The Commission also concluded that the conduct in the real estate transactions demonstrated "bad faith, dishonesty, untrust-worthiness, or incompetency." 63 P.S. § 455.604(a)(20). Subsection 15 also prohibits licensees from violating any Commission regulation and here Wagner had violated a regulation which prohibits assurances which the licensee knows to be ...


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