Agent’s fraud funds wife’s drug habit

A former Pymble, NSW real estate agent has received a suspended sentence and been ordered to pay more than $100,000 in fines, costs and compensation for offences involving the fraudulent conversion of trust account money, according to NSW Fair Trading. 

According to NSW Fair Trading, David Michael Johnson told investigators he stole the money to pay for illegal drugs for his wife.

Mr Johnson, formerly sole director of Johnson Prestige Realty Pty Ltd trading as L J Hooker Pymble (no longer trading), received a suspended sentence of 14 months imprisonment for each of the eight charges of fraudulently converting trust account money.

He was placed on a 12-month good behaviour bond by Parramatta Local Court.

Fair Trading Commissioner Rod Stowe said NSW Fair Trading would continue cracking down on trust account fraud in the real estate industry.

“These are indictable offences and real estate agents can face prison terms of up to 10 years for meddling with trust accounts,” Mr Stowe said.

“Millions of homeowner and landlord dollars go through trust accounts every year.

“Consumers have the right to expect that all real estate agents will comply with the provisions of the Property, Stock and Business Agent Act, and trust money will be kept safe by those agents."

The court heard that on 31 August 2011 Mr Johnson telephoned Fair Trading and reported a trust deficiency of about $350,000 for Johnson Prestige Reality Pty Ltd.

He turned himself in and put the company into voluntary administration.

Two days later, Fair Trading investigators attended the Pymble office. Mr Johnson admitted to misappropriating $480,000 from the sale deposits of a property in Killara.

To cover up the shortfall, he then fraudulent misappropriated a further $500,000 from the sale deposit on a property in Wahroonga.

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