COLLIER COUNTY, Fla - We have an update to a WINK News investigation we first brought you last year. A Naples real estate broker accused of stealing rent money from clients has lost her license.
An administrative law judge suspended both of Theresia Helton's licenses for five years and fined her $5,000.
Helton still rents an office inside an East Naples office building, but court documents reveal her license to practice real estate is now suspended.
Her victims say they're happy she's no longer in business. We first talked to Brenda Brown last year after real estate broker Theresia Helton rented out her East Naples Condo without her knowledge, collecting five months of rent, security deposits and fees totaling $5,000 and keeping it all.
Now, more than a year later, an administrative law judge ruled against Helton saying her continued practice as a real estate broker is an imminent threat to the public.
Thursday night over the phone Brown says ready to put all of this behind her.
"That keeps her from her livelihood that she had been, that was her profession so I guess maybe five years and a fine would be satisfactory," says Brown.
In a different case, Helton was arrested, accused of secretly renting out a Bonita Springs condo, collecting rent money and cashing in on more than $4,000. That victim, Ernie Armitage, settled and the grand theft charges against Helton were dropped, but charges are pending in another case with the licensing board. He's hoping harsher licensing penalties are on the way.
"I think 10 years would have been more severe. She's hurt a lot of people in the public, she took advantage of a lot of good people," says Armitage.
By our count, Helton has had three different company names at her same East Naples office, so we went to her home to ask her about these latest developments, but she wasn't there.
Armitage says, "she has a track record of operating illegally and I think she'll continue that's why I feel like it's a slap on the wrist."
Helton was also ordered to be on probabation for five years during that time she will also be required to take a 28 hour broker reactivation course.
Accroding to a spokesperson with the Florida Department of Business and Professional Regulation, "the Administrative Law Judge who herd the evidence in the case recommended that Ms. Helton's real estate license be revoked. The Florida Real Estate Commission reduced the disciplinary action to a suspension. It is the position of the Division of Real Estate prosecutors and Office of the General Counsel that the recommended order of the Administrative Law Judge should have been followed and as a result filed an appeal."
Helton's suspension is currently in effect.