Want a Chicago leasing agent with a criminal record?

by Joe Zekas on 3/1/13

Lots of Chicago leasing agents are unsavory characters, but only a small minority of them are convicted criminals. If you want to be certain that your leasing agent has a record of criminal convictions, you can call Chicago Apartment Finders and ask for Bryan Duffy, or call Kale Realty and ask for Bruce Stafford.

A hat tip to the January 2013 Discipline Report (PDF) from IDFPR for the leads. Per IDFPR:

Bryan Duffy, Chicago – real estate leasing agent license (473app3253691) to be issued and placed on indefinite probation for a minimum of three years based on criminal convictions in 2005 and 2009.

According to Duffy’s LinkedIn profile, he’s affiliated with Chicago Apartment Finders and attended Purdue North Central in Westville, IN. Westville is in LaPorte County, IN.

A news release from the US Attorney’s Office for the Northern District of Indiana contains the following entry:

Bryan Duffy, 24, of LaPorte, Indiana, plead guilty on 5/6/10 before Judge Robert Miller, Jr. to count 1 of an indictment charging him with possession with the intent to distribute psylocybin (mushroom). Sentencing has been set for July 22, 2010. This case was investigated by the Drug Enforcement Administration, and is being prosecuted by Assistant United States Attorney Frank Schaffer.

Would that be in addition to the 2005 and 2009 convictions? I placed a call to Duffy, who refused to discuss the subject with me. Here’s a review of Duffy at Yelp.

I also contacted the Edgewater office of Chicago Apartment Finders to inquire about Duffy. I was referred to an HR person, and have left a message requesting information.

Per IDFPR:

Bruce Stafford, Chicago – real estate leasing agent license (473app3216816) to be issued and placed on probation for 24 months due to past criminal convictions.

I put in a call to Bruce and asked him to share with me the nature of those convictions. He was unwilling to do that. I’ve also placed a call to the managing broker at Kale Realty, but haven’t yet received a response.

Chicago’s rental services, many of which can be found on our do-not-call list, are typically not very demanding in their hiring standards. Before agreeing to work with any leasing agent at a rental service a/k/a apartment locator a/k/a apartment finder, insist on seeing a state-issued license and photo ID that matches the name on that license. Then do a thorough online search for information about that person. Or, you can just take potluck and get in the car with someone who may have a criminal record. When you enter your Driver’s License and Social Security numbers on the application for an apartment, ask yourself whether you’re handing that info to someone with a history of identity theft.

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{ 21 comments… read them below or add one }

Joseph Bender March 2, 2013 at 9:14 AM

I read your blog, Sir, and thank you for alerting us to a “criminal”!! However, the answer to your question is yes. I would use these people as leasing agents.

Kudos to the companies to giving them an opportunity to be productive citizens! We need more humanity in this great city of ours. It’s citizens like you, Sir, that we don’t need.

You have no mention of Bruce’s type of crime, but Bryans crime of possessing with intent to deliver mushrooms is a crime that is common across the majority of large universities. The only difference is this guy was caught. Does that make those who have not gotten caught comiting such a crime just as criminal?

Last I heard, this country is about giving people opportunities, even people who have committed a crime, so kudos to Chicago Apartment Finder and Kale realty for giving these two guys a chance!

Yes, I have committed a crime and have paid my dues to society, thus my interest in your blog.

I look forward to your response sir.

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Joseph Bender March 2, 2013 at 9:26 AM

Joe, on a lazy Saturday I have time on my hands, your a criminal as well,,draft dodger.

Signed Joe Bender,,,Vietnam vet.

Joe Zekas works at adding to his used-to-be’s: dirt-poor Pennsylvania coal-town kid, shortest in class through 8th grade, New Jerseyan, hitch-hiker, motorcyclist, statistical typist, library clerk, delivery boy, classical scholar wannabe, gas station attendant, tuxedo salesman, psychiatric aide, social worker, civil rights activist, draft-dodger, gun-toting truck driver (Brinks), bartender, temp secretary, Lucey’s Raider, Wisconsinite, large-firm attorney, real estate developer, condo converter, tax shelter syndicator, multi-level marketer, married person, newspaper publisher, money-losing tech gadfly, software developer to name a few.

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Joe Zekas March 2, 2013 at 9:41 AM

My “draft dodger” years were spent as a social worker for the Milwaukee County Department of Public Welfare – with an occupational deferment granted by the Selective Service System.

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Joe Zekas March 2, 2013 at 10:36 AM

Joseph Bender,

Please note that I contacted both of these individuals and their companies for further details about their records. The individuals refused to talk, and the companies failed to return calls.

Both individuals, according to the IDFPR Discipline Report, had more than one conviction. You want to minimize the importance of one of them on the grounds that the behavior it arose from is allegedly widespread and that “the only difference is this guy was caught.” Drug dealers who haven’t been convicted are no less criminal. Duffy rose to the attention of the DEA and the feds. That doesn’t raise any questions for you?

I’m in favor of giving people who’ve earned them opportunities that don’t put other people at unacceptable risk. I’m also in favor of giving people all the information they want or need to make decisions, and think that a criminal record is a critical piece of information about an individual and the company that hires him. I’m not in favor of handing over sensitive financial information to convicted criminals. It’s not a risk I would knowingly accept and think that anyone who does is naïve or foolish. I’m not in favor of doing business with people who refuse to be candid about their past. I wouldn’t give them the keys to other people’s apartments. I’d caution my children about getting in a car with them.

Tell us about the crime you committed. Were you the extremely rare individual who committed only the single crime you were convicted of, or the much more common one who committed many crimes and pleaded to a lesser offense on only one of them? If the latter, did your plea to a single lesser offense pay your debt to society for the crime you committed and all the others?

The larger and more relevant point here is the behavior of Chicago’s rental services and their near-total disregard for the laws that govern their business, their lax approach to hiring, their misrepresentation of newly-hired convicted criminals as trusted experts – and on and on and on.

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Al March 3, 2013 at 9:20 AM

Wow. Totally agree with Joseph here. The man served his time. Is a conviction for distribution of drugs, or anything for that matter, supposed to render one unemployable for life? Chicago Apartment Finders on Bryn Mawr has a good reputation and they deserve credit for giving Mr. Duffy a chance.

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Bob March 3, 2013 at 9:47 AM

So let me get this straight. Their criminal sentences are complete and the licensing board has deemed them capable and trustworthy enough to serve the public, but this blog has determined that such moral infractions as [gasp] selling drugs and then refusing to provide comment to this blog when asked to do so warrants a career ending or at the very least damaging hit piece.

To those whose privacy was violated by this blog, something like 1 in 3 Americans have a criminal conviction. Treat this as one of those “any publicity is good publicity” situations. You’d be amazed how many people will give you business, myself included, because we’ve been in a similar situation.

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Joe Zekas March 3, 2013 at 10:32 AM

Bob and Al,

It’s curious that you share an IP address and untraceable email addresses. Wouldn’t be the same person, would you? Would you also be the same person that placed two different smoke-blowing comments on other posts from that IP address using two additional untraceable email addresses?

What I see is a lying fraudster defending criminals. Who do you expect to believe a word you say?

Criminal convictions are a matter of public record. No one’s privacy was violated by this post – or by IDFPR’s making the public aware of these individuals’ background.

IDFPR hasn’t deemed these individuals “capable and trustworthy.” It has issued them licenses on a probationary basis. They’re employed in the rental services industry, which has a rotten track record of overseeing its agents. Chicago Apartment Finders does not, as you claim, have “a good reputation.”

Unemployable for life? These are recent convictions. What has Duffy done in the interim to demonstrate that he merits anyone’s trust?

One in three Americans has a criminal conviction? That’s a flat-out lie.

Let’s get real here. Duffy’s LinkedIn profile says he’s been at Chicago Apartment Finders since May of 2012, and his Zillow profile says he has a year’s experience. That raises a very serious question about whether he violated the law – and committed another crime – by working as a leasing agent beyond the 120-day permit time before being issued a probationary license. He has ads posted online for buildings that have not authorized advertising, i.e. illegal ads. His Zillow profile lists him with a specialty of “Buyer’s Agent.” He’s not licensed to represent buyers.

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Al March 3, 2013 at 11:17 AM

Joe,

I have no idea what you’re talking about. A “lying fraudster”? Really? You’re the one claiming I share an IP address with someone which is impossible since I’m on a 4g network. Feel free to email me if you think it’s “untreaceble”. I understand it is easier to smear than to debate, but try to stay professional.

Anyway, I did not make the claim, but in reaponse to you, I did a google search and over 60mil Americans have a criminal conviction. The 1 in 3 adults claim seems mostly accurate. And thank you for being the arbiter of when someone has paid their dies in society instead of a judge who sentenced this man or the licensing board. You are the rental agency watch dog we were looking for.

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Joe Zekas March 3, 2013 at 11:43 AM

Al – or whoever you are,

Your last comment was from a different IP address than your previous one, which was from the same IP from which “Bob” posted. You know that, and you know you’re lying.

I’ll credit that you might be unable to understand the difference between an arrest and a conviction, and between 1 in 3 and 1 in 4, rather than lying about that fact – although the evidence points in the liar direction.

Everyone’s their own arbiter of what they’re comfortable with and who has and has not paid their “dies.” No one should have a problem with giving people information that would affect their decision. Everyone should have a problem with commenters blowing smoke and lying.

If you have anything further to say, you can disclose your identity and say it via email to yojoe at yochicago dot com.

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Michael March 3, 2013 at 8:29 PM

Joe, I realize your goal is to expose the offenses of the rental companies, but this is WAY over the line. You’ve possibly destroyed the careers of two people, who have already paid their debt to society and are trying to rebuild their lives. This is absolutely unconscionable. I urge you to delete this story and save some semblance of respectability for this site.

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Joe Zekas March 3, 2013 at 8:52 PM

Michael,

So tell us who you are and how you can so confidentlly state that these folks “have already paid their debt to society and are trying to rebuild their lives?”

My guess – you’re just another rental service troll trying to obscure the real issues here.

These people have garnered multiple criminal convictions – and I’ve destroyed the “careers” that they’ve just begun?

I’ve tried to enable renters to make an intelligent decision as to whether they want to get in a car and head out to vacant apartments with these guys, and tried to help landlords decide whether they’re comfortable with these guys having the keys to their tenants’ apartments. That’s “absolutely unconscionable?”

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Michael March 3, 2013 at 10:53 PM

Joe, I’m not a rental service troll, and I don’t feel the need to tell you who I am. This is actually for your own good — this post makes you look like a venal, bitter old man willing to do anything for his clients, no matter who he hurts. If you can’t see that, you really need to take a good look at yourself. I have no skin in this game, apart from being appalled at your behavior and the depths to which you’ll sink to make your point. The “real issue” is not these people’s criminal convictions, and if your paranoia won’t let you see that, you have bigger issues.

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123 March 4, 2013 at 12:04 AM

Why does driving people around and showing apartments require a clean record? What’s the risk? Are these serial killers or axe murderers? If not, who gives a s***.

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Michael March 3, 2013 at 10:58 PM

I’ll also just add that I’m actually on your side when it comes to the rental agencies. Many need to be shut down — I have a friend looking for an apartment now who has run into many of the issues you warn about. This is NOT the way to do it, however.

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Joe Zekas March 3, 2013 at 11:12 PM

Michael,

You didn’t respond to my challenge to state the basis for your confidence in these individuals, so I have to assume you have no basis for it. And why should anyone take your anonymous word for having “no skin in this game?”

The fact that you mention my age as an apparent negative factor. and suggest that I strike you as “bitter” and “venal,” tells me as clearly as possible that you’re not on my side, don’t have my interests at heart, and know nothing about me.

I make no apologies for putting the interests of young renters and landlords ahead of the interests of convicted criminals. The way to warn people about potential problems is to call attention to them as clearly and specifically as possible, which is what I’ve done.

Added:

Stafford and Duffy both self-report as having worked as leasing agents well beyond the 120 days within which they would have been required to have a license. They either a) committed a crime by acting as a leasing agent without a license or b) lied about their history on their LinkedIn profiles.

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nwzimmer March 4, 2013 at 3:15 PM

I agree that a person who has served their time should get another chance to be a productive citizen.

However, these rental agencies are shady enough to begin with, even without having felons working at them.

I think it’s the combination of the already incredibly shady rental agencies COMBINED with the fact that felons are working at them that is the key point here.

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Michael March 4, 2013 at 10:54 PM

Joe, you’re correct — the venal, bitter and old thing were ad hominems that you don’t deserve. I would have thought that you would have deleted this story by now, however. This does far more damage to you and this site than it does to the rental agencies giving these people a chance. I’m done with this, but I hope you at least think about your motives and the people you’re hurting here. And again, believe it or not, I am not at all affiliated with the rental agencies, or real estate in general for that matter.

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Joe Zekas March 4, 2013 at 11:56 PM

Michael,

Note my immediately previous comment. These people don’t deserve a chance to be put in a positon of trust, based on their having either a) continued to engage in criminal behavior or b) lied about their experience. They need to be avoided. I can’t possibly hurt these people more than they’re hurting themselves and the public.

Agencies that allow people to work beyond the 120-day permit period need to be exposed and have their licenses revoked.

My motives are transparent – there are lots of competent, professional, ethical real estate agents in this town affiliated with honest, reputable brokerage firms – a number of which are clients. Those agents and those firms have earned the public’s trust and they shouldn’t have to compete with liars who routinely engage in illegal behavior to gain business.

This post won’t be deleted – doing so would damage this site. You can count on me to shed more light on Chicago’s rental services and the people they employ.

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Rob A. March 15, 2013 at 11:55 PM

Very stupid of you Joe. It’s good to know you’re an online real estate cop too. Why don’t you remove this post?

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Joe Zekas March 16, 2013 at 1:13 AM

Rob A.

It’s good to know that on your first day here you’re a better judge than I am of what this site should be offering its readers.

Why don’t you try making an intelligent argument against the post instead of name calling?

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Bryan Duffy April 25, 2013 at 3:27 PM

I have my license, Joe.

Reply

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