The Maryland Real Estate Commission has initiated an investigation into the conviction of six newly convicted Montgomery County realty firms and three of their presidents to determine whether or not to revoke or suspend their brokers' licenses.
The firms and their executives were convicted Wednesday in U.S. Federal Court in Baltimore of conspiring to fix prices in 1974 by raising commision rates on residential properties from 6 per cent to 7 per cent.
In a statement issued jointly with the Maryland Attorney General's office, Charles Chambers, executive director of the Maryland Real Estate Commission, said the commission is empowered to "revoke, suspend or reprimand a licensee for conviction of moral turpitude.
"This matter has already been refeered to the division of investigative services (of the Attorney General's office) to obtain specific information as to the nature of the conduct involved. When the investigation is concluded, it will be referred to the commission for review and determination for what action, if any, is deemed appropriate."
Those convicted were Jack Foley Realty, Inc., and John P. Foley, Jr., 46, of Potomac; Bogley, Inc., and its president, Robert W. Lebling, 53, of Gaithersburg: Robert L. Gruen, Inc.; Schick & Pepe; Colquitt-Carruthers, Inc., and John T. Carruthers, Jr., 35, of Potomac, and Shannon & Luchs Co.
The firms also do considerable business in the District, where, under the D.C. Code, the city's real estate commission can "revoke forthwith the license issued to the licensee convicted of . . . criminal conspiracy to defraud, or other like offense or offenses." A spokesman said that before it decides to take any action, the commission may have to seek a corporation counsel ruling as to whether a criminal conviction for antitrust violations falls within this definition."
Meanwhile, those realtors who were willing to comment on the trial's outcome rallied to the support of their convicted colleagues. Mrs. Hugh T. Peck, president of Hugh T., Peck Properties Inc., a large area firm that was not indicted, said. "I'm stunned and sad about the whole thing. I think we have an excellent group of realtors in Montgomery County."