Article Courtesy of The
Tampa Bay Times
By Susan Taylor Martin
Published October 17, 2019
ORLANDO — The Florida Real Estate Commission voted
unanimously Tuesday to revoke the license of Michael Schaffer, a
Pinellas County real estate agent who failed to disclose two felony
"He should not be working with consumers,''
commissioner Guy Sanchez Jr. said.
Somewhat unusually, Schaffer did not appear nor was he represented by an
attorney at the all-day commission meeting where dozens of other
Realtors and license applicants showed up in person to answer questions
about their criminal pasts. Schaffer, an agent with Realty Resource in
St. Pete Beach, did not return a call for comment.
The revocation will not take effect until a final order is filed,
probably around the end of October. Until then, Schaffer can continue to
work as an agent. Records show that he has one active listing, a vacant
lot in Marion County, and that he has been involved in several
transactions this year including the $1.54 million sale of a unit in the
ONE St. Petersburg condo tower.
An image from the web site of Realtor Michael
Schaffer's real estate company.
The commission began investigating Schaffer after the
Tampa Bay Times reported on some questionable real estate dealings, his
ties to a disbarred lawyer and his criminal background.
Schaffer, 53, obtained his Florida real estate license in 2001. A year
later, he was indicted in Illinois, where he once worked, on charges of
stealing nearly $40,000 from a clothing store. He pleaded guilty to two
felony counts and was sentenced to 30 months probation. Florida
officials said there was no evidence that he ever disclosed his crimes
to the state’s Real Estate Commission as is required.
The seven-member commission, which meets monthly in Orlando, takes an
especially hard line on thefts and other financial crimes. Realtors
handle clients’ escrow funds and often enter homes when no one is there.
"People leave money around,'' commissioner Patti Ketcham said Tuesday as
the panel considered whether to approve a license for a man with a petty
theft charge. "Stealing is a big deal and people need to be able to
Those who’ve had recent dealings with Schaffer say his thefts and
criminal past should have been a warning.
Last year, Samuel Buck of Seminole filed a complaint with the Real
Estate Commission after he lost out on the purchase of a villa that
Schaffer had listed. Schaffer accepted a lower bid — from a Realtor in
the same office — even though Buck’s bid was considerably higher. That
Realtor relisted the villa for nearly $75,000 more than he had paid five
Retired Gulfport teacher Marsha Warner said Schaffer and lawyer Andre
Keith Sanders talked her into using $114,000 of her retirement funds in
2012 to help a buyer who needed downpayment assistance on a Tierra Verde
townhouse. Warner received some monthly interest payments but was
eventually told that all of her "investment'' had been lost.
In fact, the men had used Warner’s money to pay off the mortgage on the
townhouse, which had belonged to one of Sanders clients. It was then
sold to Schaffer’s roommate and business partner, who flipped it — for a
Gulfport lawyer Dianne Griffith wonders why it took Florida’s Department
of Business and Professional Regulation, which oversees the Real Estate
Commission, such a long time to learn about Schaffer’s felony thefts.
Griffith, who represents Warner and another woman who have filed
complaints about him, quickly found the cases from 2002.
"If I can find these facts in minutes, why can’t the DBPR?,'' she asked.