WCTV | Tallahassee, Thomasville, Valdosta | News, Weather, Sports

[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.
----------------------------------------------------------------
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.
--------------------------------------------------------
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.

-------------------------------------------

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.

-----------------------------------------

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.
---------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
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.


Comments are posted from viewers like you and do not always reflect the views of this station.
powered by Disqus
WCTV 1801 Halstead Blvd. Tallahassee, FL 32309
Gray Television, Inc. - Copyright © 2002-2014 - Designed by Gray Digital Media - Powered by Clickability 122535604 - wctv.tv/a?a=122535604