A former Anna Maria Island real estate agent, accused of operating without a real estate license, was scheduled for a jury trial June 16.
Michael Carleton, 61, was arrested Nov. 12, 2013, following an investigation by the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, Division of Real Estate.
If Carleton is convicted, he could face up to five years in prison for operating without a real estate license, which is a third-degree felony.
In March 2013, the state suspended Carleton’s license after he allegedly deposited $10,000 for rental property at 106 55th St., Holmes Beach, into the escrow account for his rental agency at Coast Line Accommodations, instead of Coast Line Realtors, his registered employer.
The investigation of Carleton was the result of complaints that he deliberately double-booked island vacation homes and failed to return deposits.
Complainants allege Carleton could not be contacted regarding deposits paid or, at times, would return partial refunds, which frustrated renters who were hoping to recoup their deposits.
The Anna Maria Island Chamber of Commerce said it fielded numerous complaints about Carleton’s alleged illegal rental practices.
While Carleton was under criminal investigation by the Holmes Beach Police Department, his island office closed down.
HBPD turned the investigation over to the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Postal Service in May 2013, however, he is not facing federal charges at this time, according to William Daniels, public affairs specialist for the U.S. Attorney’s Office, Middle District of Florida..