Robert Futterman pleads guilty to felony DWI

Bridgehampton arrest in August unlikely to lead to loss of real estate license, insiders say

TRD New York /
Feb.February 06, 2012 03:30 PM

Top retail broker Robert Futterman, who founded the firm that carries his name, pleaded guilty this past Friday to one felony and one misdemeanor count related to his arrest last summer in Bridgehampton, L.I., on drunk driving charges, a spokesperson for the Suffolk County district attorney said.

Futterman, chairman and CEO of Robert K. Futterman & Associates, was pulled over at about 10:27 p.m. on Aug. 21, 2011 while driving on Sag Harbor Turnpike with four children under the age of 16 in his car, for failing to stay in one lane, news reports at the time said. He was charged with multiple counts including violations of Leandra’s Law, which make it a felony on the first offense to drive while intoxicated with children younger than 16 years old in the car, court records show.

On Friday, Futterman pleaded guilty before Supervising Judge James Hudson in the Suffolk County Criminal Courts Building in Riverhead, L.I. to the aggravated felony count, and the misdemeanor count of driving while impaired by a drug. The drug was the prescription medication Ambien, which is given to treat insomnia, one source familiar with the case said.

Futterman declined to comment through a spokesperson. In the case, Futterman was represented by Sag Harbor, L.I., attorney Edward Burke, who did not return a call for comment. Futterman’s sentencing is scheduled for April 13, an official with the Suffolk County Court said.

“Prior to sentencing he must complete 1,000 hours of community service in Suffolk County with conditions including alcohol and narcotics counseling and regular testing,” the spokesperson for the Suffolk County DA said. “His final sentence will be determined at the completion of the community service and the pre-sentencing report by the department of probation.”

A spokesperson for the Department of State, Chris Valens, said no action would be taken on the license without a review.

“The license is not immediately revoked upon felony conviction as the licensee is entitled to due process. We would need to investigate and file a complaint seeking revocation and hold a hearing in front of an administrative law judge,” Valens said.

The state plans to open an investigation, Valens said.

Last year, The Real Deal ranked Futterman’s firm as the most active in term of square feet of space leased in Manhattan in 2010.

A person convicted under Leandra’s Law faces one to four years in prison, as well as a fine of $1,000 to $5,000 and mandatory use of an ignition interlock device, which measures a driver’s breath alcohol content.

However, the person close to the case said because this is a first offense, it was likely the court would give him community service and probation, but not jail time.

In addition, the guilty plea is unlikely to lead to a revocation of his broker’s license, despite a state law, enforced by the state’s Department of State, which says a broker can’t hold a license once convicted of a felony.

“No person shall be entitled to a license as a real estate broker or real estate salesperson under this article who has been convicted in this state or elsewhere of a felony,” the law says.

Futterman could also be granted a “certificate of relief,” that would allow him to keep his real estate broker’s license. It is at the discretion of the sentencing court, state law shows.

Insiders said the law is rarely interpreted so strictly. An analysis by The Real Deal last year showed the Department of State revoked real estate licenses from four individuals between November 2007 to March 2011.

Mia Rivera, school administrator at the New York Real Estate Institute, which prepares students to take the real estate license test, said the state generally suspends or revokes licenses from brokers or salespersons who have broken financial laws, or been convicted of sex offenses.

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