News 4 Investigates: How did a felon on probation get a local re - KMOV.com

News 4 Investigates: How did a felon on probation get a local real estate license?

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Reese Stacey. Credit: KMOV Reese Stacey. Credit: KMOV

(KMOV.com) - A part of Missouri law allows felons to enter your home and you might have no clue about their criminal pasts.

News 4 Investigates started digging after a woman convicted of burglary and grand theft was allowed to move to Missouri and become a licensed real estate agent.

Brian Nichols says his O'Fallon home was for sale by owner last year.

“This lady comes up the driveway and asks if I need a real estate agent,” said Nichols. 

What struck him the most? Her business card, which shows a non-traditional headshot. 

"I saw this picture that seemed kind of weird and a realty group I had never heard of," Nichols said. 

It all seemed strange to him.

“I was uncomfortable,” Nichols said.

But he was shocked after just a quick Google search

Reese Stacey was actually Theresa Stacey and before that, Theresa Darrah.

“She scammed people out of tens of thousands of dollars,” said one man in California.

Stacey is known to dozens of people out in California.

She was convicted of burglary and grand theft back in 2015. Victims say she bilked them out money after offering small business owners table top advertisements and then didn't deliver.

"Five years is a little lenient,” a victim of Stacey’s said to our Palm Springs affiliate.

Some victims weren't thrilled about her punishment, which was five years’ probation.

Her probation papers say Stacey is not to engage in any sales or practices of advertising, directly or indirectly until 2020.

How exactly, then, did she wind up moving to Missouri and getting a real estate salesperson license?

“Just concerned because I don't want someone else taken advantage,” Nichols said.

Nichols had the same questions News 4 did.

So News 4 went straight to Missouri officials. The Department of Corrections told News 4 that a provision of law called the Interstate Compact allowed her to transfer her probation terms from California to Missouri.

News 4 went to Terry Moore, the Executive Director of the Missouri Real Estate Commission to learn more about her licensure.

“We will not discuss any particular case pending before any court,” Moore said.

Documents News 4 obtained show Stacey got her Missouri real estate license in December 2015, the same year she was sentenced to probation for her crimes in California. The commission filed paperwork in May of this year indicating she did not disclose her guilty plea to her criminal offenses.

Her license is currently on an Inactive status.

In Missouri, it's against the law for someone to have a real estate license if they have been found guilty of only a handful of very serious crimes such as murder, rape or possession of child porn.

But other felonies are fair game to allow licensure.

In fact, News 4 found licensed agents in the state with criminal convictions for repeated DUIs, making false statements, and even recent drug dealing.

Whether or not a felon gets a real estate license is all up to the discretion of the Real Estate Commission.

“They literally take in the totality of the circumstances that surround that individual,” Moore said.

He says they account for how long in the past the crime occurred and whether or not the person seemed rehabilitated.

“It’s something not to be taken lightly, that we protect everyone's safety,” said Barry Upchurch with the St. Louis Realtor’s Associations.

Real estate brokers in the St. Louis area, like Upchurch, say they want the best people they can have in the field.

“We try to increase the quality of the herd, who are out there helping people because we want to protect our brand, the realtor brand,” he said.

Not all licensed agents are members of a Realtor’s Association. Those associations provide higher levels of ethical standards by which a member must abide.

News 4 wanted to know if Stacey was still willing to help people buy and sell homes. She at first indicated to News 4’s Lauren Trager that she would be able to help, but did admit that her license was currently inactive.

If she starts selling again, Nichols says the public ought to know about her past.

“You shouldn't take advantage of people,” he said.

News 4 spoke with the broker who employed Stacey and her lawyer helping her to get her license back. Both declined to talk on camera. But they told News 4 that some people deserve second chances. They say she did disclose her past and they say she's not done anything wrong since she's been in Missouri.

Real estate experts say make sure you do your homework to know your agent's background.

Search them on the internet and check to see if their license is current and active, or if they have had any disciplinary actions levied against them. You can check for that, here.

Ask for references and interview several agents before you choose one that's right for you.

You can learn more about the St. Louis Realtors, here

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