Judge rules tester in Newsday’s racial steering investigation was “not credible”

State plans to appeal decision, now the 2nd case dropped against an agent implicated in the probe

A judge ruled in favor of a real estate agent accused of racial steering (Getty)
A judge ruled in favor of a real estate agent accused of racial steering (Getty)

Two Long Island-based real estate agents accused of racial discrimination are back to business as usual.

After a 2019 Newsday exposé revealed systemic racial steering — in which real estate agents direct homebuyers to specific localities based on their race — on Long Island, 67 agents and executives were subpoenaed as part of a state probe into the matter that ultimately resulted in new legislation.

The New York Department of State, which monitors real estate licensees’ conduct, filed cases against 23 agents identified in the Newsday probe, as well as three instructors who provide continuing education for agents.

Le-Ann Vicquery of Voro Real Estate, who was at Keller Williams Realty Homes & Estates in Hauppauge at the time of the investigation, reportedly encouraged Black homebuyers to purchase homes in Brentwood, while warning white buyers of gang violence in the area.

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But the state’s case against Vicquery was dismissed last month, Newsday reported, with an administrative law judge calling accounts of Vicquery’s conduct by Newsday’s investigator “not credible.” The state plans to appeal the case, but for the time being Vicquery is able to get back to work.
While most of the cases against the agents implicated in the probe are still pending, Vicquery is the second agent named in the exposé whose case has been dismissed. Last month, Newsday reported that state regulators dropped their case against Michele Friedman of Douglas Elliman Real Estate in Huntington, who was found in the investigation to have provided different listings to white and hispanic buyers.

So far, only one agent implicated in the Newsday investigation has faced consequences. Anne Marie Queally Bechand’s real estate license was revoked last year, according to Newsday, after the agent allegedly refused to show homes to a Black buyer unless they could show proof of mortgage prequalification, while providing a tour to a white undercover investigator who lacked such proof.

New York state is widely regarded as having among the strongest oversight systems of real estate licensees, though consumer protection experts say such scrutiny is notoriously slack nationwide thanks to the industry’s strong influence with oversight bodies.

[Newsday] — Erin Hudson

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