BEFORE THE VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD
IN THE MATTER OF
CHARLES ROBERT GRAY VSB Docket No. 00-031- 2347/CRESPA
The court reporter for the proceeding,
Tracy J. Stroh, Chandler & Halaz, P.O. Box 9349, Richmond, Virginia 23227, telephone
(804) 730-1222, was duly sworn by Mr. Moffet. Each member of the hearing panel
stated on the record that he had no business or financial interest, and no personal
bias that would impair his ability to hear the matter fairly and impartially.
The board admitted Virginia State Bar Exhibits 1, 2, 3, 4A thru M, 5 and 6. The board admitted Respondent's Exhibits 1 thru 13 and 15. The board heard testimony of witnesses produced on behalf of the Virginia State Bar and the testimony of the respondent, Charles R. Gray. The board received argument from Bar Counsel and from counsel on behalf of respondent and retired for purposes of deliberation.
The board finds that Virginia Code Section 6.1-2.20 defines "Settlement Agent" as follows:
"Settlement Agent" means a person other than a party to the real estate transaction who provides escrow, closing or settlement services in connection with a transaction related to real estate in this Commonwealth and who is listed as the settlement agent on the settlement statement for such a transaction. (emphasis added)
Virginia State Bar Exhibits 4A thru
M are the settlement statements for 13 of the 15 real estate transactions listed
in the Virginia State Bar's Notice of Violations. All of said settlement statements,
with the exception of Virginia State Bar Exhibit 4A, list either Commonwealth
Escrow & Title Services, Inc. or an attorney other than respondent as the settlement
agent for those transactions. Thus, by definition, respondent can not be a "settlement
agent", as that term is defined in CRESPA, in any of the transactions other
than the one reflected in Virginia State Bar Exhibit 4A and under Virginia Code
Section 6.1-2.21.A, "[a]ny such person, not acting in the capacity of a settlement
agent shall not be subject to the provisions of this chapter." Therefore, the
alleged violations as to the transactions reflected in Virginia State Bar Exhibits
4B through M are dismissed.
With respect to Virginia State Bar Exhibit 4A, the Vice President of Commonwealth Escrow & Title Services, Inc. testified that he generated this settlement statement after the closing in order to disburse escrow funds and that it was not the settlement statement used at the closing and he did not know who had done the actual closing or who was listed as the settlement agent on the settlement statement generated for the actual closing. Moreover, respondent testified that he did not perform any "escrow, closing or settlement services" in connection with this transaction. The Virginia State Bar failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that Charles R. Gray was listed as the settlement agent on the actual settlement statement and failed to prove by clear and convincing evidence that the respondent provided "escrow, closing or settlement services", as that term is defined in Virginia Code Section 6.1-2.20, in relation to that real estate transaction. Therefore, the alleged CRESPA violation in connection with the transaction referred to in Virginia State Bar 4A is dismissed.
The other two transactions referred to in the Virginia State Bar's Notice of Violations, John McColman and Arthur Sturman, are also dismissed. Respondent introduced the settlement statement in the McColman transaction and it did not list respondent as the settlement agent and neither party introduced a settlement statement or any other evidence which would establish a violation with regard to the Sturman transaction.
Accordingly, all charges of CRESPA violations against the respondent either listed in the notice or presented at the hearing are dismissed for the reasons stated above.
And there being nothing further to do in this cause, it is hereby ORDERED that the Clerk of the Disciplinary System shall remove this matter from the Disciplinary Board Docket and place it among ended causes.
ENTERED this ______ day of August, 2001.
VIRGINIA STATE BAR DISCIPLINARY BOARD
William M. Moffet, Chairman