Published: January 3, 2014
Two Colorado Springs real estate agents have paid $93,500 in civil penalties to the federal government to settle allegations of "deceptive conduct" related to a series of property acquisitions, the U.S. Attorney's Office in Denver said Friday.
According to a U.S. Attorney's Office news release, Jana DeWitt "engaged in fraud" by falsely listing her daughters as the buyers of at least 17 bank-owned properties in order to "conceal the fact that Ms. DeWitt herself" was the real purchaser. Kenneth Westfall, meanwhile, was the listing agent on the transactions, the Attorney's Office said.
"He had a responsibility, and in some cases a duty based on the language of the listing contracts used in the transactions, to disclose to the sellers that the real party in interest purchasing the property was affiliated with him and his company," according to the release. However, Westfall failed to do so.
"To facilitate each of these transactions," the release said, "Ms. DeWitt wired money from her own accounts to the closing company as the purchase funds for the transaction. She falsified her own bank account statements to make them appear that the account was held in the name of her daughters, thus providing the seller with proof of funds for purchase while concealing that she was the real party in interest.
"For each of these transactions, Mr. Westfall knowingly failed to notify the seller that Ms. DeWitt was the real party in interest purchasing the property and that Ms. DeWitt was affiliated with him and his company."
Other details related to the government's allegations - the types of properties, their locations, over what period the purchases took place and the length of the investigation - weren't avaiable.
The settlement agreement "is neither an admission of liability by Ms. DeWitt or Mr. Westfall, nor a concession by the United States that its claims are not well founded," according to the U.S. Attorney's Office.
Westfall, whose website describes him as president of Westfall & Co., and DeWitt, whose LinkedIn profile describes her as a Westfall & Co. broker and owner of her own firm, couldn't be reached for comment.
As a result of the settlement, the pair could face state sanctions. Marcia Waters, director of Colorado's Division of Real Estate, an arm of the Department of Regulatory Affairs, said the allegations described by the U.S. Attorney would give her office grounds to investigate Westfall and DeWitt. However, she declined to say whether an investigation has been or will be launched.
If Westfall and DeWitt were determined to have violated state regulations, the Colorado Real Estate Commission could discipline the pair, Waters said. Those sanctions could range from letters of admonition to revocation of their licenses and the imposition of fines.