Loophole allowed Staubitz to obtain real estate license despite conviction State now inquires about criminal past

September 29, 1993|By Darren M. Allen and Sandy Banisky | Darren M. Allen and Sandy Banisky,Staff Writers

Former Deputy State Health Secretary John M. Staubitz Jr. used a now-closed regulatory loophole to get a job as a real estate agent despite serving nearly seven months in state prison for skimming thousands of dollars from a state amateur athletics program.

Mr. Staubitz currently is jailed in Westminster on 17 charges that stem from break-ins at four Carroll County homes. He was arrested Friday.

Police say he may have stolen more than $50,000 worth of property from eight homes in the Baltimore suburbs earlier this month, using his position as an agent at the Greenspring office of Coldwell Banker Grempler Realty Inc. to find houses that were for sale to use as targets.

According to Department of Licensing and Regulation records, Mr. Staubitz was issued a real estate sales license on March 16, about a month after his release from a minimum-security state prison.

Mr. Staubitz, once the No. 2 man in the state health department, had taken the first steps toward a real estate career in January 1992, when he applied to take the state real estate exam, state records say. At the time, he had not yet come to trial on charges of financial impropriety in connection with the State Games program, but he already had been accused of bilking the amateur athletics program of thousands of dollars.

The real estate application asks whether the applicant has had any criminal conviction. With his trial scheduled in Baltimore Circuit Court about four months later, Mr. Staubitz honestly answered "no" on the application.

He passed the test but did not apply for a real estate agent's license then.

In May 1992, he entered an Alford plea, conceding the state had enough evidence to convict him but maintaining his innocence. He was convicted on a misdemeanor count of conspiracy to commit misconduct in office.

He fled before his scheduled sentencing in July 1992 and spent nearly a month on the run before he was arrested in Las Vegas. Last October, he was sentenced to 10 months in prison.

Despite earlier reports from the Division of Correction that he was released in June, Mr. Staubitz was freed from the Central Laundry facility in Sykesville on Feb. 4, officials said yesterday.

In March, Mr. Staubitz applied for his real estate sales license. The license application, unlike the application for the exam, did not ask whether the applicant had any criminal convictions.

Mr. Staubitz's application didn't provoke any questions and was routinely processed, according to state licensing records. Those procedures were changed this year. Since July 1, the license application, as well as the exam application, asks applicants to note any criminal convictions.

Acknowledging a conviction does not necessarily bar an applicant from selling real estate, licensing officials say.

The Real Estate Commission of Maryland would decide whether the conviction is serious and germane.

Ted Hill, the sales manager at Grempler's Greenspring office, terminated Mr. Staubitz's employment contract Monday.

He also notified the Real Estate Commission of Mr. Staubitz's arrest.

Mr. Staubitz's conviction on mishandling state money most likely would have been considered serious and germane, officials said yesterday, as would any convictions stemming from the 17 charges he faces in Carroll County.

Mr. Staubitz, 45, of Catonsville and another man, Robert Ernest Emmons Jr., 29, of Brooklyn Park, were being held in the Carroll County Detention Center last night in lieu of $100,000 bail pending bail review hearings.

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