Douglas Elliman’s newest star agent Roger Erickson has been slapped with a $2,000 fine and ordered to complete 10 hours of ethics training for allegedly having secretly worked as a dual agent on a 2009 deal, in violation of state licensing laws, The Real Deal has learned.
The penalty, issued by the New York Department of State, relates to an investigation into Erickson’s work on a 2009 deal, on which the broker allegedly acted as an undisclosed dual agent, representing both the buyer and the seller of a property without the seller’s knowledge. Erickson was an agent at Sotheby’s International Realty at the time.
Sotheby’s was also fined $2,000 as a result of the investigation.
The origins of the investigation date back to 2009, when Erickson is alleged to have misled client Harvey Schuyler into believing he was acting as Schuyler’s exclusive representative in the sale of his 812 Fifth Avenue apartment, when in fact he was also working with a prospective purchaser, Turkish businesswoman Demet Sabanci Cetindogan.
Despite having originally priced the apartment at $3.65 million, Erickson is alleged to have vigorously promoted a more modest offer of $3 million from Cetindogan. Meanwhile, Schuyler alleges that he had no idea Cetindogan was also a client of Erickson’s.
Schuyler filed suit against Erickson in 2011. The litigation is still pending.
While the deal with Cetindogan eventually fell apart, Schuyler alleges that the Erickson’s alleged misconduct caused him to take a hit on the eventual sale of the apartment.
“Having set the apartment’s purchase price below the fair market value, created a false market,” Schuyler alleged in court documents. “Plaintiff thereafter was unable to realize a higher market value for the apartment as the false market price was widely known.”
Evan Schieber, an attorney for Schuyler, declined to comment, citing ongoing litigation. But the ruling is likely a blow for the veteran agent and former CBS Records executive, whose client list includes music royalty such as Bono and Madonna. His 10 hours of continuing education will comprise classes on ethics and agent disclosure.
Erickson, who ranked 24 in The Real Deal‘s list of top residential brokers in 2014, wasn’t the only Sotheby’s agent fined as part of the investigation, which led to a closer inspection of Sotheby’s licensing practices.
Sotheby’s senior vice presidents Sanoj Stephen, brokerage manager Ellie Johnson, Hamptons manager Debra Reece, and agents Alice Bell, John Gicking and Diane Levine were all fined $1,000 as part of the probe for improper use of corporate titles.
In 2012, the Department of State ruled that brokers are limited to the use of titles that correspond to their licenses — such as broker, associate broker or salesperson — and not the more fanciful titles that firms sometimes grant their more seasoned agents, such as vice president, senior vice president and director.