Realtor Forced To Give Up License After Money Goes Missing

By Joe Shortsleeve, WBZ-TV

BOSTON (CBS) – Nobody has to tell you that the real estate market is tough these days…but imagine putting down a deposit on a property only to have your real estate agent steal your money.

Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve has exclusive details concerning one sales person now facing several complaints.

Realtor Sarah Lederman-Scali is not doing any more deals these days.  That is because a lot money is missing.

For six years Lederman-Scali sold real estate in down town Boston when the market was hot.  Now it is cold.

Documents obtained by WBZ show the state took the unusual step of ordering her to immediately surrender her real estate license.

George Weber is the Director of the State Division of Professional Licensure.  He calls this case a “nightmare for consumers.”

He says “tens of thousands of dollars” are missing.

“The allegations are that this individual was taking deposits and if the transaction did go thru she was not returning the deposits.”

Sales persons like Lederman-Scali legally are not supposed to deposit checks for pending transactions.  That is only to be done by the agency owner or broker.

Attorney Richard Lynds represents a Winthrop resident who was trying to buy two properties in Winthrop one year ago.  When the deals fell apart Lederman-Scali began writing him bad checks.

“So has this created a hardship for your client?”

Lynds’ response.  “Yes…$10,000.00 is a lot of money!”

“As far as consumers having trust in the industry… it is a sad day when a real estate agent takes money and does not return it when they are supposed to.”

While Lederman- Scali lists an office in Boston’s North End…it is now closed.

We then went to her home in Winthrop where Chief Correspondent Joe Shortsleeve spoke briefly to her mother.

Shortsleeve asks “I am here to confirm that they took away her license yesterday?”

“…that is correct.”

Shortsleeve asks “is she going to try and pay back the people she owes money to?”

“Yes, of course she is!”

The state says it is investigating four separate complaints against Lederman-Scali.  Her family tells WBZ she is the victim of bad decisions in a bad real estate market.

The State Division of Professional Licensure will hold a hearing next Tuesday to determine if Lederman-Scali should lose here license permanently.

Comments

One Comment

  1. Marguerite Desrosies says:

    Who do we file a complaint with on this woman? We have money that she has kept.

    1. Debra S says:

      I would call the state board or maybe the attorney listed in the story. I’m sure they will be glad to help.

      1. Marguerite Desrosiers says:

        what state board?

    2. jean says:

      They said they are having an open hearing on Tuesday in Boston. Call the Lic. Board report your stolen money and maybe you may want to attend

  2. Anonymous says:

    I worked with Sarah and was afraid something might go awry, but looks like in the end we were lucky. How awful for the people whose money she stole.

  3. Debra S says:

    Board of Real Estate Brokers 617-727-3074

    I found a Linkedin profile for the attorney at:

    https://www.linkedin.com/reg/join-pprofile?key=57359176&authToken=Rh_V&authType=name&lnk=cnt_dir&trk=ppro_cntdir

  4. anyonomous says:

    How in god’s name is she going to pay this money back? She stole so much money, she needs to go to jail as she has been steeling now for over a year it looks like from this interview. According to the law she was supposed to put the deposits in escrow and not touch them, looks like she took more than one vacation on these people’s hard earned money. Newport , they should investigate when she went there and with whose money!!!! She will hide now in a drug rehab or mental health place to avoid jail, let’s not be fooled by this cunning woman.

    1. Kim says:

      …….My reply to the mispelled anonymous is I agree. Also, why did it take so long for the real estate board to catch up with her, after all it states she stole 10,000.00 a year ago and was writing bad checks? I agree with the above statement, she is cunning, and if she did go on vacations, well that is just the devil using other people’s money. She had no right and should be made to give it back, or maybe her mother who stated oh yes she will pay it back should pay it back for her. Does she live with her mother? How did her mother not know? I believe the whole family knew, now let them give these people back their money!!!!!

  5. bo says:

    the father is scam artist,the mother works for rep markey,the cover up will go on and on they have been scamming for years

  6. Elaine says:

    Isn’t stealing money a felony? Criminal charges will be brought you can be assurred of that. Already the district attorney’s office is involved. bo wrote there will be cover up after cover up, well NOT if we all band together and make sure that does NOT happen. FYI if you or I stole 10’s of thousands of dollars we would be locked up, she is no different and will face the consequences!!!

  7. Celine says:

    Comment to FYI Richard Lynds Esq…….Why can’t the board take further action, do they allow this to happen (let the realtor steal and get away with it) why do they exist, who do they protect, why wouldn’t they take further action and lastly do you work for her? (Sarah

    People if she stole your money go after her in criminal court, it is a criminal offense

    1. Richard C. Lynds, Esq. says:

      I don’t work for her. I actually represent some of the victims and filed a complaint with the Division on their behalf. The Board regulates the industry and takes disciplinary action against licensees when warranted. In this case, and based on numerous complaints, they suspended her license pending the outcome of a further hearing (which I understood was tentatively scheduled for this Tuesday). I understand that she has voluntarily surrendered her real estate license and therefore no hearing is needed. As for discipline, that is really the end of the line for her as a licensed real estate professional. Certainly, the Board -as well as the victims – are free to make a referral to the District Attorney for criminal prosecution.

      1. info says:

        are you RECE Realty of can you give their information?

  8. Celine says:

    To Richard C. Lynds. Esq. My apologies, and yes they should go right to the district attorney’s office who I understand is well aware of this situation, and ALL involved should call them immediately. She took many vacations, now she needs one more, in the big house. Her family is well off, let them pay the monies she has stolen. If the allegations against her father are true, and her mother has a connection to Markey’s office, shouldn’t the district attorney’s office be informed of that as well. People who have been taken by this wicked woman, please contact the district attorney immediately…….I know some people who have already done so, it seems more and more are coming forward!

    1. Ag says:

      I think it’s funny that your comments are obviously driven by a bad past with Sarah. I know who you are and from what I remember you have a few skeletons we should let people know about with your involvement in this agency.

  9. silly says:

    I feel sorry for the victims in this hard economic time, they should go after HER, but come on, the person responding saying they should make her mother pay?come on, grow up. The agent is solely responsible, if the family helps, then that is up to them. The family being well off and all that is no ones business. The agent is responsible. I also think its funny that some people know where she vacations…. well I know who you are too… hahaha

  10. victim also says:

    ‘The great con artists are people who first win the confidence of their mark — hence the name “con” men. Con men convince you to trust them – and then betray your confidence and steal your money. When the mark discovers the con, he is likely to be really angry. He is angry not simply be…cause he has lost his money. He’s angry because the con man played him for a chump.’
    See More

  11. Kim says:

    To Silly,
    I agree the agent is responsible, but her mother did say on the news Sarah will pay the money she STOLE back. Can you tell me how without a job now? If you know who I am ha ha ha then come and speak to me. I believe Sarah makes no secrets where she vacations, anyone that knows her or of her knows that! Sillly Sillly Silly

  12. Horace says:

    I think every one has made very valid points. I knew Sarah professionally and I think this is VERY sad. The impact this will have on her children has yet to be felt. Sarah was a talented agent with a lot of promise until the market turned &
    Sadly so did a gifted agent. What Sarah did was wrong illegal, unprofessional, and downright nasty.

  13. don't be fooled again says:

    Agreed, theft is theft, and as far as being a victim of the market, well, there are many real estate agents out there, none of them are stealing money to take vacations, and yes I know her professionally, and she acted like everything was fine, then took off to Newport. I am sure she slept like a baby spending other people’s money. If you are having a hard time, you do NOT take vacations, you try your hardest to Not steal money and get more deals done. She was a gifted agent, she should have concentrated on her job instead of how much money she could steal and how many bad checks she could write and how many vacations that other’s paid for she could go on. She is just EVIL

  14. faina says:

    She owes me $4000 as well

    1. bostonmob says:

      Faina you also manipulated a purchase and sales on a transaction with Sarah so I am curious as to how your not tagged along with this?!

      1. try again says:

        Pointing fingers at Faina is so wrong, let Sarah deal with what Sarah did, and she needs tp pay Faina too….To just a thought, don’t lead thiese people to believe because Sarah owns nothing she will get away with this. She committed criminal acts, and felonies and the last time I checked people who do not make restitution go to jail costing us taxpayers more money for Sarah!

  15. R.S. says:

    I too worked for this person and left after several checks bounced, There was ALWAYS an excuse, usually blamed on the bank. She then made her mother her “busines manager” and that obviously worked out real well. Bet the courts don’t know that one. I whitnessed on more than one occasion lying to clients, money being cashed when it should not have been and a lack of care toward anyone but herself. She derserves everything that’s coming to her!

  16. Just a Thought says:

    Sarah was a gifted realtor, a hardworking single mom from a nice local family. Her mother has publicly said she intends to pay back the money she misappropriated and I believe her. Her parents may well advance her the funds to help clear her name, and this would probably be the best outcome for everyone. The only explanation I can come up with as to why they did not do it before the scandal hit is that Sarah probably was too embarrassed to tell them.

    Imagine what it would be like to earn a healthy income in a strong real estate market. Then the market drops out from under you and through no fault of your own your income goes down to practically nothing. I am not saying what Sarah did was right, not by any means. But we need to put this in context. The word “evil” needs to be reserved for people like serial rapists or murderers, people who take pleasure in the sufferings of others, don’t you think?

    Let’s be fair : plenty of people borrow from Peter to pay Paul every single month, plenty of people live above their means and are in denial about their finances, plenty of people are tens of thousands, or even hundreds of thousands of dollars in debt, especially in a bad economy. People declare bankruptcy every day, which means they do not ever have to pay their creditors back. Sarah to my knowledge has not done this.

    Having to surrender her professional license to do what she is very good at, presenting and marketing homes, and be publicly disgraced is a very sad outcome.

    I for one am hoping Sarah will be able to reinvent herself, get a good job, settle her debts, be a good mom to her kids, and put this all behind her.

    1. Just looking says:

      Very noble of you to run to Sarah’s defense here but you have got to be kidding us. First, she was not a gifted realtor – she was nothing more than a scam artist and a con. Her mother said she (Sarah) will pay back the money and you believe her? Thats interesting. Sarah has been saying that for a year to some of these people while taking more money from others. You want to be fair? “Borrowing” from Peter to pay Paul is one thing – defrauding buyers who have entrusted you as a real estate professional and enriching yourself is pretty unfair. Try as you might to spin this by throwing out generalities about “plenty of people” but this isn’t about people overwhelmed with credit card debts…it’s about one person who cunningly stole other people’s money. You mention that to your knowledge Sarah hasn’t filed for Bankruptcy? (sounds like you know an awful lot about her. I suspect family member, lawyer, or close personal friend). Tell her she shouldn’t waste her (or her victims’) money on the postage stamp. Bankruptcy won’t protect her from making restitution to victims of fraud. Lastly, as for Sarah reinventing herself – I wouldn’t hold my breath. Leopards never change their spots.

      1. Just a Thought says:

        Sarah and I had a brief professional relationship. She absolutely was gifted at staging, photographing, marketing, and showing her properties. Her internet presence was the equal of any high-end realtor in the city.

        If we’re wondering about identities here, have you considered posting under just one name? Are you “Kim”, “Elaine”, “Celine” “anyonomous”, “Just looking”, or are you “Joe”? The word “cunning”, the phrase “that is very interesting”, and the triple exclamation points (!!!!) and the obsessive preoccupation with the fact that Sarah has a place through family or friends to get away to in Newport gives you away. And Newport is not exactly San Tropez, after all.

        A realtor is supposed to take deposits on properties, that is part of the job. She is not supposed to touch these funds but obviously in this case she did. Like most perpetrators of white-collar crime, I’m sure she started out thinking she would be able to replace the money by the time of closing, but she couldn’t. At that point it seems as if she began using the next person’s deposit to cover the money she had spent. If the real estate market had rebounded, she would have made up her losses and probably been OK. I’m sure that’s what some of her creditors were counting on, which is why they were patient. But it didn’t. This is why she had to surrender her license, because of unethical behavior.

        Once the court renders a judgment against her, the only way the parties can collect is to put a lien on her property or garnish her wages. If she doesn’t have property or wages, they are simply out of luck. That’s why your mean-spiritedness is both inappropriate and unhelpful. The best chance anyone has of getting their money is either for Sarah’s parents to step up or for Sarah to get a job and gradually pay the money back. Bashing them or her is not going to assist in this process.

  17. joe says:

    People, if Faina did a transaction and did not get paid she deserves to be paid. If you bostonmob want to point fingers, do not worry, the distrrict attorney’s office is investigating everyone, each deal, so hopefully you who want to put Faina in Sarah’s category should look at yourself. To our knowledge, it was Sarah and Sarah only who STOLE the money, not Faina or anyone else, unless you know something we all should know about…….Someone wrote her mother was involved, she was made a business manager, that is very interesting, she was heard lying to clients about funds herself. The truth my friends always comes out in the wash or in this case INVESTIGATION. As for others having skeletons, who doesn’t, but this is about Sarah Stealing not once but many times over the course of a year or more. and not to pay bills but to take VACATIONS

  18. realtor says:

    I worked with Sarah, and yes, she was a gifted agent at one time, a master on the computer, she could market like nobody else in the industry, unless of course they hired someone. That is why I am having a very hard time with her being a victim of the economy. I too am a real estate agent, and I was in the process of doing a deal with Sarah, she in turn stole my clients money, a substantial amount. She knew the law, she was not suppose to touch one cent. Now I hear alot of bickering over he said she said he did she did, there is no need for any of this. For the victims, I feel so extremely sorry for them, they are going to have to go along with the investigation with the district attorney’s office and hire attorney’s themselves, having to spend even more of their hard earned money. My problem with Sarah is she knew exactly what she was doing when dealing with me, she called me a friend, and all she had to do was ask me for some help and I probably would have done so. Sarah and I go back a few years, and for her to outright lie to me to steal my clients money and yes take off on a vacation the very next day, well I can’t find any sympathy for her. I feel very bad for her children, they are wonderful children, they do not deserve what is coming. If anyone thinks this is over, it is far from it. Kids can be very cruel and they will have to deal with this in and out of school. I wouldn’t wish this on anyone. Especially Children.They are the innocent ones in all of this. Hopefully Sarah can get herself together, pay these people back and move on with her life. She is a smart pretty woman, if she just concentrated on work and not so much on stealing this would not have happened. All she had to do was ask for help and I am sure she would have gotten some. Now the vultures are surrounding, and you really can’t blame them, they want their money back. How would any of you feel if you put a 10,000.00 deposit down, put your trust in a supposed great agent, only to have it stolen. Put yourself in the victims shoes, not a very good position to be in. Put yourself in the realtor’s shoes, my shoes if you will, my clients trusted me, she stole the money, didn’t make me look too good now did it. I pray for an outcome that helps the victims, that gets Sarah some help, and hopefully shield the children as much as possible. This will go on for a long time, as I understand these investigations take time. Please people stop your bickering and accusations, it does no one any good, just makes the situation look worse than it is, and it is pretty darn bad. This will not just blow over and be yesterday’s news, there is a very big investigation going on, let them do their job, and if anyone has information they should not put it on here of all places, just answer the questions truthfully without malice and that should help. Calling yourselves the bostonmob doesn’t make Sarah look too good either.

    1. ya mother says:

      We all know who you are. Keep it shut!

      1. realtor says:

        I know who I am too. I will not keep it shut, and when called in which will be soon I will tell the truth, the whole truth and nothing but the truth, also have many emails and texts to back up the truth that Sarah lied, manipulated the buyers and stole their money, and went on vacation the next day.

  19. thoughtless says:

    To Just a Thought:
    Have you considered if Sarah can’t pay these people back, then she faces jail, she committed criminal acts some include felony charges. So please do not lead these people to believe that nothing can be done, it most certainly can.

    1. Just a Thought says:

      Ask any prosecuting attorney : white collar criminals do not generally serve jail time unless their crime is on a par with that of a Kenneth Lay, Michael Milken or Bernard Madoff. Jails are overcrowded with people who commit violent crimes. White-collar criminals do get convictions and probation though, unless there is some sort of settlement agreement reached.

      And may I ask, what is so excessive about a trip to Newport? It’s just a short drive, and not a particularly expensive place to stay. If you are staying with family or friends, it’s free. Further, a realtor can do her job anywhere she has access to a cell phone or a computer. You’re dreaming if you think anyone is going to slap handcuffs on Sarah or call in forensic accountants to see where the money went.

      If you think I’m unsympathetic, consider this : I too was defrauded of approximately $10,000 in 2008 (not by Sarah) and I had to hire an attorney, got judgment in my favor in 2009, and have yet to see a penny. There are apparently several steps in the collection process.

      The person who defrauded me reneged on our contract, used poor judgment, and lied, but I do not waste any time wishing she were in jail, or fuming that she might be eating steak instead of hamburger! I’m glad she has a good job — it increases my changes of recovery. My attorney is proceeding with the collection process and I will probably end up with $450 a month for two years or some such arrangement. So I certainly do empathize with those who are in the same situation.

      The only bright side to this is, there is no place to invest $10,000 with any kind of appreciable return right now anyway. You can get 1% interest from Capital One.com. That’s a hundred dollars a year. Big deal.

  20. ha ha says:

    Wake up and smell the coffee……..Newport Vacations are and always were the norm for Sarah. This past year she should have stayed home and payed these people back. Don’t think for a minute that the investigation won’t go down to Newport and wherever else Sarah went to tally up what she spent when she should have been working to pay people back….Thoughless is right, looks like jail for Sarah. No pay the peoplle No stay out of jail

  21. Attny says:

    What I love about this whole thing is the no talent ass clowns who continue to try and comment on something they know nothing about. It’s a witch hunt and something for bored housewives and people who lack little to no direction in their lives to keep busy.

    Half these comments are driven by people who lack information and remain ignorant on all facts. What Sarah did was not in anyway legal or morally correct. However, it is all to easy to point the finger and call the kettle black when you stand outside the circle not knowing all the facts.

    Some of these comments come from past agents under Sarah who lack zero motivation,continually point the finger and lack any personal responsibility for their own actions. As for the others you clearly stink of “self interest” and “personal gain”. There are far worse crimes out there. Sarah is not one of them. SHE IS NOT A VICTIM but her current situation may very well be the result of trying to SURVIVE in a real estate market and doing what she could to stay afloat. Again, no matter which way you spin it this was wrong! But when you have kids and your trying to survive in this economy your vision may just get blurred. Pay whats owed and move on..lesson learned!

    So for all of you who are quick to judge. Look at your own pathetic lives. When your perfect be sure and check back which I am sure will be NEVER!

    I am not an associate of Sarah and neither do I subscribe to either side of the argument. It’s just plain to see what the basis for most of these comments are.

    As for Faina she has worked for Sarah for almost two years and has had many questionable activities in her last few transactions. Why are we not questioning her as well?

    1. facts says:

      Your last sentence about faina makes all you said truly unbelievable, you stated you had no side on this.

  22. sick of this says:

    There are plenty of single mother’s out there who do not live off their parents, I understand she has not had a place of her own in over 10 years, lives for free with her 2 children. Now we have single moms who do not have anyone, who wouldn’t dream of stealing to survive in this market, they have other jobs. Simple fact is Sarah had it easier than most, and she blew it. She stole, took what did not belong to her end of story. No crying now, just pay it back. As far as white colllar criminals, yes Sarah is now a criminal not doing jail time, that is a crock. Ask any attorney, my god even shop lifters do some serious time, so I am sure there is room for a Thief………Who committed fraud, theft, felonies, and more that hasn’t even come out yet. Get your facts straight, I have them. Call the D A and ask I am sure their office will be glad to answer and ask all questions. Some people on here are just nasty, and threatening won’t help anyone, yes we should all look in the mirror, last time I looked I could look back, can any of you?

  23. Brian says:

    Very surprising, Sarah always promoted herself as one of Boston’s top realtors. Its sad that something led her to the depths of stealing and unethical behavior.

    She will have to pay the price of never being a realtor again and being known as an ethically challenged business person

    I only hope she can find anew beginning and raise her 2 children with better ethics, for the sake of all of us

  24. Joe says:

    THE PARTY GIRL COMES CRASHING DOWN – She has a Scarlet Letter now!

    Nothing worse than having your smiling face plastered all over the CBS evening news with your facebook address. Ouch!

    Oh the gossip around Winthrop and North Shore

    Now we know where the arrogant Boston/Newport party girl got her money…she stole it from unsuspecting and trusting clients

  25. Froggy says:

    Karma is a boomerang…. so so true!

  26. you Liar says:

    This is a complete lie. State your name and docket # here for everyone to see.

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