State revoked real estate licenses of 6

  • Article by: JANE FRIEDMANN
  • Updated: June 13, 2011 - 10:30 AM

Six real estate professionals lost their licenses in the fourth quarter of 2010 and the first quarter of 2011 for misconduct, according to Minnesota Department of Commerce records.

Three others were suspended from the profession after the state had to compensate customers on their behalf.

Matthew D. Birt, St. Francis, $75,000 fine

Kristina M. Birt, Hastings, $25,000 fine

Real estate salesperson licenses revoked.

Kristina Birt bought eight houses in 2005 and 2006 with plans to quickly resell them. With the help of a loan officer, the Birts used inflated appraisals and falsified applications to secure loans for as much as $139,000 more than the listing price. Sellers either gave the Birts a cash kickback or the money was funneled through limited liability companies. All eight properties fell into foreclosure at significant losses to the lenders.

Troy D. Chaika, Burnsville, $10,000 fine

Real estate broker license revoked.

Chaika orchestrated loan kickbacks on houses he helped sell. He told buyers that he had negotiated discounts with builders and that they would receive the discounts at closing. Chaika submitted sham purchase agreements for as much as $230,000 more than the builder's asking price. Chaika received as much as $90,000 per sale for his role. Most of the loans later defaulted.

Opal J. Rogstad, Detroit Lakes, $10,000 fine

Real estate broker license revoked.

Rogstad, while acting as the broker for Action Realty, Detroit Lakes, Inc., illegally used the company's trust account funds for her personal use. She repaid the account prior to the department's investigation.

Katherine Stangle, Cloquet, $2,500 fine

Real estate closing agent, insurance producer and abstracter licenses revoked.

Stangle failed to "maintain control over business funds and documents," her consent order stated.

Berrberli C. Vargas, St. Paul

Real estate salesperson and notary public licenses revoked.

Vargas showed untrustworthiness or financial irresponsibility by "knowingly making several false statements on a personal mortgage loan application," according to her consent order.

Suspensions due to recovery fund payout

Three licensees were suspended in the fourth quarter of 2010 or the first quarter of 2011 after the state made payments from the Real Estate Education, Research and Recovery Fund.

The fund exists to compensate people who have lost money due to misconduct by a licensed real estate broker, salesperson or closing agent. Types of misconduct include fraud, deception, dishonesty or conversion of trust funds.

If a customer wins a judgment against a licensee and the licensee fails to satisfy the judgment, the customer can seek compensation from the fund. If the fund makes a payout, the state is required to suspend the licensee.

All state-licensed real estate professionals contribute annually to the fund.

Steve P. Walters, Duluth

The state made two payouts from the recovery fund totaling $8,700 after Walters failed to satisfy judgments against him. His real estate broker license was suspended retroactively to Aug. 4, 2010, the date on which the fund made the payout.

Shelley L. Beliveau, Mound

The state suspended Beliveau's real estate salesperson license retroactively to Dec. 8, 2010, after paying $7,500 from the recovery fund.

Cynthia T. Strand, Forest Lake

The state suspended Strand's real estate closing agent license after it paid $4,582 toward satisfying a civil judgment against Strand. The suspension is retroactive to Aug. 4, 2010.

Hard Data digs into public records and puts a spotlight on rulebreakers in Minnesota. Contact me at jfriedmann@startribune.com.

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