A Niagara County real estate agent was sentenced in Federal Court Tuesday after she failed to tell the home buyer that hazardous, led-based paint was present in the property.
According to federal prosecutors, 73-year-old Maureen S. Walck of Lockport, NY, was a broker for RealtyUSA in 2014 when she sold the Lockport home to an unsuspecting family knowing lead-based paint was used in the home. In September 2015, the new owners learned that their child was diagnosed with lead poisoning.
Investigators said after one potential sale fell through, a second prospective buyer made an offer to purchase the residence. As part of the sales contract, another lead-based paint rider was included. However, unlike the rider with the first prospective buyers, Walck indicated that the seller had no knowledge of lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards at the residence and that there were no records pertaining to lead-based paint and/or lead-based paint hazards for the residence.
“The legal maxim of caveat emptor or ‘let the buyer beware’ has no applicability where, as here, the seller’s agent withholds information from the buyer notwithstanding her legal obligation to disclose the same,” stated U.S. Attorney James Kennedy. “Indeed, the more apt lesson to be gleaned from this prosecution might well be ‘let the artful agent beware.’”
Walck was convicted of failure to provide lead paint hazard warning notice, was sentenced to time served, fined $1,000 and ordered to pay restitution to the victim in the amount of $53,326.07 by U.S. Magistrate Judge Jeremiah J. McCarthy.
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