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Fraud trial delayed for island real estate agent

By Merab-Michal Favorite, Islander Reporter

A former Anna Maria Island real estate agent, accused of operating without a real estate license, could face federal charges pending the outcome of another investigation.

Michael Carlton, 61, was scheduled for a jury trial June 16 on a charge of unlicensed real estate activity at the Manatee County Judicial Center. However, the local trial was put on hold pending an ongoing investigation by the U.S. Postal Service.

Assistant State Attorney Lisa Chittaro, 12th Judicial Circuit, said the Postal Service began looking into Carleton’s case in May 2013.

Chittaro said the SAO office suspended the charge against Carleton pending the findings of the postal investigation.

However, the Postal Service has not indicted Carleton on federal charges, according to William Daniels, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida.

Carleton was arrested Nov. 12, 2013, following an investigation by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Real Estate.

In March 2013, the state suspended Carleton’s license after he allegedly deposited a $10,000 escrow check to his Coast Line Accommodations account for property at 106 55th St., Holmes Beach. The check should have been deposited to Coast Line Accommodations, his registered employer, according to the report.

The investigation of Carleton was the result of complaints that he deliberately double-booked island vacation homes and failed to return deposits.

Complaints investigated by the Holmes Beach Police Department allege Carleton could not be contacted regarding deposits paid or, at times, would return partial refunds, which frustrated renters who were hoping to recoup deposits after Carleton canceled accommodations.

The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce reported fielding more than 60 complaints regarding Carelton’s rental practices.

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