Local Realtor has licenses revoked by Alabama Real Estate Commission

Michael Langston, right, formerly of The Lake Martin Experience, had a total of four licenses revoked recently by the Alabama Real Estate Commission. In addition, he was fined $2,500 for each license for a total of $10,000. Langston is shown here presenting a check to the Lake Martin Resource Association following a benefit golf tournament. (File photo)

A longtime local Realtor has been fined and seen his licenses revoked by the Alabama Real Estate Commission.

According to the minutes from a March 22 meeting of the commission, Michael Langston, formerly of The Lake Martin Experience, was found guilty on two counts which included failing to “properly account for or remit money coming into possession which belonged to others” and “co-mingling funds coming into possession which belonged to others with the company operating account and with the personal account of Mr. Langston.”

A total of four licenses that Langston had held, which included broker qualification, were revoked by unanimous votes of the commission. In addition, he was fine $2,500 for each license for a total of $10,000.

According to K.C. Baldwin, an investigator with the commission, the term of a revocation is two years and prevents the “person from participating in any licensed real estate activity.”

“After two years, a person who has been revoked can reapply for licensing through the board.” Baldwin said.

The meeting was held in Cullman and present were Vice Chairman Bill Watts; Commissioners Reid Cummings, Cindy Denney, Carole Harrison, Clif Miller, Vaughn Poe and Danny Sharp; Executive Director Patricia Anderson; Assistant Executive Director Teresa Hoffman; General Counsel Mandy Lynn; Investigators David Erfman and K.C. Baldwin; Auditors Anthony Brown and Vickie Shackleford and Executive Assistant Barbi Lee. The hearing officer was Jim Hampton.

Langston acknowledged the action taken by the commission, but said the mistakes made at his company were not as some have painted them.

“We made some mistakes, but I didn’t shoot John Kennedy, I can tell you that,” Langston said. “Last year when I had five people leave me by sending an email in the middle of the night, I had to change my controller as well,” Langston said. “Because of that, I wanted to make sure everything was OK, so I asked the Real Estate Commission to audit the company. In that process, they found some instances where some mistakes were made. In one we paid payroll out of the wrong account, realized it and put it right back. Another time, Harland, the check company, was paid from the wrong account. That time, same thing, we paid it right back. It was instances like that, not where I was paying my rent or bills out of escrow or something.”

He said he expected the fine, and acknowledged the mistakes. Langston believes a legal dispute between he and another entity apparently swayed the commission to take the more severe action.

In March, Eric McKinley asked the court for a restraining order and declaratory judgment against Langston.

The complaint asks the court to limit Langston’s ability to do business as The Lake Martin Experience after McKinley entered into the business as a partner and Langston had been cited by the State of Alabama Real Estate Commission for ethical violations and is facing suspension or revocation of his real estate license.

McKinley, according to his legal filing, had joined the partnership in Dec. 2017 with 50 percent ownership with an agreement that if ethical violations, loss of real estate license or other legal proceedings arose, the party would be removed from ownership of the business. McKinley asked the court to remove Langston from ownership in The Lake Martin Experience as deemed in the partnership agreement.

Langston said he would have never agreed to sell half of his company for $50,000, especially when he knew he would be going before the commission.

“That temporary restraining order, which I am still fighting and disputing, is what escalated the decision they made,” Langston said. “I don’t mind explaining it at all. I do that every day. You look at the ruling or hear what some people are telling you and you think the worst. It’s not at all what it is being painted as.”

Langston also has court cases pending involving former clients and employees, according to court records.

In November 2017, Gary Thomas Widmer of Michigan filed suit against Langston who served as Widmer’s real estate agent to purchase a Sunset Point Condo with a boat slip and personal watercraft lift. After closing Widmer went inspect the property to find out the boat slip and lift had been left out of the real estate deal. Widmer alleges Langston negotiated on his behalf with power of attorney and did not disclose the change in the contract to him. Widmer is asking for $10,000 plus interest, costs and attorney fees for “willfully with intent to deceive, recklessly or innocently by mistake, concealed and misrepresented material facts about the PWC Slips in the purchase…”

In January, Windy Carter filed suit against Langston seeking $30,000 in commissions owed to her after she left Langston’s business after she discovered Langston was “co-mingling funds” in violation of the laws of the State of Alabama and the Ethics of Alabama Real Estate Commission. Langston said she is one of the employees who left the company last year and he has filed a countersuit in that case.

Langston said he is trying to move forward and do what he does best. He has opened Michael Langston LLC, a firm dedicated to marketing real estate for companies and helping with training.

“I’m not doing any transactions or any licenses activity,” Langston said. “I’m working with a new broker and sales staff assisting the newest real estate company on Lake Martin, We Are Lake Martin. That’s what real estate is all about – marketing. I enjoy doing that and hopefully I can make a difference in that role until all the rest of this gets cleared up.”

Langston said he has 30 days to appeal, but said he hasn’t even gotten official notification of the revocation at this point.

(Staff writer Cliff Williams also contributed to this report)

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