Three Long Island agents lose licenses over Newsday discrimination exposé

Suspensions, fines follow 2019 investigation

Long Island Agent Licenses Revoked After Newsday Exposé
New York Secretary of State Robert Rodriguez. Inset (middle): Keller Williams's Aminta Abarca (Getty, Realtor)

An undercover investigation by Newsday into housing discrimination on Long Island has resulted in penalties for some brokers ensnared in the probe. 

The New York Department of State revoked licenses from three agents, suspended the licenses of seven and fined five between $500 and the maximum allowed of $2,000. 

There were a total of 36 agents named in Newsday’s Long Island Divided series, the outlet reported. Decisions are pending against five of them, while cases were dismissed against four. In two instances, the state dropped their cases, while the state didn’t pursue discipline for 10 of them.

Himanshoo Sanghvi (who worked for Century 21 American Homes at the time of Newsday’s series), was among the agents who lost their licenses. He offered opinions on a local school district and referred to a neighborhood as a “mini United Nations.” He was initially suspended six months before an appeal led to the revocation of his license.

The other agents to have their licenses revoked by the state were Aminta Abarca of Keller Williams Realty of Greater Nassau and Anne Marie Queally Bechand of Signature Premier Properties in Cold Spring Harbor.

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Not every case resulted in discipline. Ana Pizaro, who worked at Signature Premier Properties, allegedly gave a white tester 18 listings in Plainview and Syosset and none in Huntington, but gave a Hispanic tester more than 60 listings in Huntington — a predominantly Hispanic area — and few in Plainview and Syosset. Her case was dismissed because investigators didn’t provide evidence establishing the race of the testers and couldn’t prove “discriminatory intent.” 

RE/MAX Beyond associate broker Joy Tuxson told a white tester that Wyandanch — a hamlet with a predominantly Black and Hispanic population — the area was a good place to “buy your crack.” Her license was ultimately suspended until the completion of a fair housing course, but that discipline was connected to separate comments she made about schools. 

She took a three-hour course the day she learned of the suspension and had her license restored the very next day. Her license status lists her as an associate broker with RE/MAX Integrity Leaders.

Newsday’s three-year probe involved sending undercover testers to meet with agents and secretly videotaping allegedly discriminatory action.

State and local authorities have followed up the investigation with increased efforts to tackle discrimination and comply with fair housing laws. Long Island Realtors unveiled a fair housing campaign a couple of years ago. In November, New York Attorney General Letitia James launched a program to fund fair housing testers across the state.

Holden Walter-Warner

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