[UPDATE] Tallahassee Housing Authority Dir. Cleared, Demands Apology

By: Lanetra Bennett; Donnitra Gilbert; Julie Montanaro Email
By: Lanetra Bennett; Donnitra Gilbert; Julie Montanaro Email

UPDATED 6.5.2011 6:45pm by Julie Montanaro

The head of the Tallahassee Housing Authority is demanding a public apology.

Claudette Cromartie was arrested and accused of being an unlicensed real estate broker. Now the charges have been dropped and the DBPR investigator who handled the case has been fired.

Claudette Cromartie has been the executive director of the Tallahassee Housing Authority for 13 years.

She turned herself in to face charges of brokering without a license last month after discovering there was a warrant out for her arrest. It happened by chance when her brother was pulled over in a traffic stop.

"They ran the tag and the officer saw my name and came back and asked him if he knew me," Cromartie said. "He said 'yeah, that's my sister.' He said well we have a warrant out for her arrest for brokering without a license."

The felony charges were dropped June 2nd soon after the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation closed its investigation without taking any action.

Attorneys for Cromartie and the Tallahassee Housing Authority called a press conference Monday to explain what they say was the rest of the story.

"Everything that Ms. Cromartie did was up under Tallahassee Housing Professionals, which is a subsidiary of the Tallahassee Housing Authority. Once they were able to establish that Ms. Cromartie was not profiting from managing these properties, that this was allowed under several statues, they immediately dropped the charges," said Cromartie's attorney Mutaquee Akbar.

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor not only demanded an apology but some answers. He said neither the state attorney's office nor DBPR investigated thoroughly enough before arresting Cromartie.

"The law comes aggressively and there's a trigger happiness about this," Proctor said.

Late Monday afternoon, a DBPR spokesperson did apologize and confirmed that the investigator who handled the case has been fired.

DBPR Spokesperson Beth Frady says the agency is also taking a closer look at how it handles cases referred for prosecution.

Prosecutor Wade White says he based his charges on DBPR'S investigation. Based on what he knows now, he called that investigation "incomplete."

We did try to get a comment from the section 8 landlord who filed the complaint with DBPR.

David Kirk filed the complaint back on October 6, 2010.

He referred all questions to his attorney, Frank Rainer. Rainer had no comment.
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UPDATED 6.5.2011 by Julie Montanaro

A spokeswoman for Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation apologized Monday for the handling of Claudette Cromartie's case and said the investigator has been fired for it.

DBPR Spokeswoman Beth Frady said, " The department is sorry Ms. Cromartie had this experience."

Frady says the department is now reviewing the way it handles cases which are referred for prosecution.

Attorneys for Claudette Cromartie and the Tallahassee Housing Authority called a press conference Monday afternoon.

They demanded an apology and some answers from both the state attorney's office and Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation in the wake of Cromartie's arrest.

Leon County Commissioner Bill Proctor contends neither investigated fully before deciding to move forward with criminal charges.

Felony charges of operating a brokerage without a license were dropped June 2nd, soon after DBPR decided to close its investigation without taking any action.

Prosecutor Wade White says he based his decision to press charges on that DBPR report, a report which given what he knows now, was "incomplete."

Cromartie's attorneys echoed DBPR's order closing the case, saying that Cromartie was not required to have a real estate brokers license to handle contracts for Tallahassee Housing Professionals.

Her attorneys say the 10% commissions collected by THP helped to boost revenues at the Tallahassee Housing Authority and Cromartie in no way profited from any of the deals she signed off on.

THP is a for profit LLC that manages properties for section 8 and other landlords. Cromartie says it provides groundskeeping services and contracts out for plumbling, electric and other licensed services.

Cromartie says the THA board okayed creation of the THP back in 2006 as a way to raise extra money for the authority in the face of federal funding cuts.
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UPDATE 6-2-2011

The state’s formal Nolle Prosse of the charges against Ms. Cromartie has been attached. A copy of the closing order from DPBR.
has also been attached.

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UPDATE 6-2-2011

WCTV just confirmed that the state attorney's office dropped all charges against Claudette Cromartie.

The initial charges stem from Cromartie being falsely accused of working as a real-estate broker without a license.

Sources say as the executive director of Tallahassee Housing Authority , Cromartie is allowed to operate in her role without a license since she is not personally standing to profit.

The state attorney's office was very apologetic after the investigation's outcome showed she was innocent.of the accusation by Florida's Department of Business and Professional Regulation

WCTV will have more information as it becomes available.

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Assistant State Attorney Wade White says Claudette Cromartie is charged with operating as a real-estate broker without a license.

WCTV confirmed that David Kirk filed a complaint with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation.

Wade says the two entered a contract last year to rent out his property but Cromartie was doing so without a license.

We reached out to Cromartie who did not have a comment.
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The Executive Director of the Tallahassee Housing Authority was arrested.

Claudette Cromartie was arrested on Friday, May 20th.

She was charged with operating a brokerage without a license.

The Tallahassee Housing Authority administers public housing and the Section 8 program.

Cromartie was released on bail on the same day of her arrest.


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Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
  • by Karma 2 on Jun 13, 2011 at 03:46 PM
    I really hope she sue......................so they can put a real investigator on this case.
  • by Anonymous on Jun 9, 2011 at 12:37 PM
    She worked for 13 years. That's my point.
  • by Yankee on Jun 7, 2011 at 09:07 PM
    Until there is a change in the mayor's office, the SA office, TPD and LCSO office, and the Leon County Commission, nobody is going to bring a major corporation here to provide the employment that is desperately needed here.
  • by William Location: San Diego on Jun 7, 2011 at 08:38 PM
    After listen to news reports about that dog and pony show in Orlando, I understand the mindset of those who are waiting for the movies deals to come pouring in, so they can claim some kind of kinship with this pathetic waste of a human. Murderer with dignity.
  • by George Location: TLH on Jun 7, 2011 at 02:00 PM
    I wish I could have forced FDLE and LSCO to make a public apology after they charged me with 9 separate felony fraud charges back in 2003 but dropped them because I didn't do anything. Since I'm white an apology just wasn't going to happen. What gives Bill Proctor the right to demand an apology? It's not his problem. He's just a racist hypocrite.
  • by Can't spell stupid without TPD on Jun 7, 2011 at 11:58 AM
    Wow. What's up with local LE? They drop charges against that doctor because there was no evidence. The ASA admits their investigation and arrest was unethical. They fired that investigator too. Why was he arrested in the first place? Now this debacle. The Rachel Hoffman lawsuit will cost the city about a gazillion dollars. The hoofbeats I hear in the distance are probably carrying a bunch of lawyers ready to file lawsuits against the city. Maybe after a lot of checks are written out to these victims all we will have for police is a bunch of trained monkeys, which might actually do a better job.
  • by Me Location: Tally on Jun 7, 2011 at 09:31 AM
    Ok, I am a white female; this has NOTHING to do with race! If this woman was arrested for something that she was not guilty of, then she DESERVES an apology!!!! Bottom Line! Her name and face was plastered all over the media and in the felony arrest photos of the Tallahassee Democrat. It is ONLY right that there is just as public of an apology--regardless of race! If it were me, I would demand and apology too.
  • by Jim Location: Tallahassee on Jun 7, 2011 at 09:08 AM
    She should absolutely sue. She was ARRESTED! Why? Because some buffoon abused his/her authority..... At least DPBR had the decency to can the ....um, "investigator." If all she wants is an apology, she's a better person than me........
  • by Anonymous on Jun 7, 2011 at 08:32 AM
    thats real funny....so many people had so much to say and race was of course brought up .....but now what do u have to say....haha im gonna laugh about this all day....she deserves alot more than an apology....can u say lawsuit...(trigger happy) lol
  • by eye1der Location: Tallahassee on Jun 7, 2011 at 08:20 AM
    An apology costs nothing & it is the right thing to do. At least that is what we tell our children. Do we outgrow this practice when we suddenly become adults? I hope not.
    • reply
      by Anonymous on Jun 7, 2011 at 10:26 AM in reply to eye1der
      An apology is only the first step in Proctor's plan. Once the apology is out there, he will use it as proof of wrongdoing that deserves payment. He will then file sue DBPR for this. This is why an apology sometimes does cost, and sometimes silence is the way to go. The DBPR investigators sometimes do not know all the laws, and that is why there is a State Attorney's office - to look at the investigation and determine if laws have been broken. DBPR is not really at fault here. The State Attorney's office should have required more information, or a more complete investigation.
      • reply
        by eye1der on Jun 7, 2011 at 12:42 PM in reply to
        The evidence of wrong doing was already clearly apparent when her name was cleared. Being silent makes it seem like there is something to hide, however, in a court of law the burden of proof will be in the documents that led up to the arrest. An apology is the polite thing to do after all she has gone through a lot publically & if done sincerely an apology can go a long way to mend many fences.
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