This article was co-edited with the Chicago Sun-Times.
A Cook County judge candidate has been sanctioned by state regulators after an investigation found that the real estate business she ran with two parents engaged in deceptive marketing practices.
Anne Shaw received a reprimand in 2016 for failing to properly supervise employees at Shaw Real Estate Group, a Chicago apartment search company, according to records.
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Shaw will face Cook County Assistant State Attorney Jamie Guerra Dickler on March 17 for a vacant Cook County Judge seat in the Sixth Judicial Subcircuit – the kind of race many voters ignore when they are vote.
The state investigation found that Shaw Real Estate Group, which also operated as My Place Apartments, was targeting people with bad credit, criminal records, previous evictions or other barriers to renting property. ‘an apartment and was charging an upfront fee in excess of $ 1,000, promising to find them an apartment within 30 days.
The catch: As long as the Shaws found one, the charges weren’t refundable even if the customer didn’t want them.
The business has been sued more than a dozen times by customers. A Shaw Real Estate representative would contact them at the last minute about an apartment and demand that the client agree within the day – without providing details of the lease, the landlord, sometimes even the location, according to the lawsuits. After 24 hours, they look like they’ve lost the apartment and the fees they paid, the lawsuits say.
Four cases were either settled out of court or ended in judgments for clients. Seven were fired, usually after the prosecutor failed to appear in court. Two are still pending.
Candace Williams says she found Shaw Real Estate on Craigslist in April 2013. Williams, a bankrupt paralegal, was drawn to the promise of finding an apartment despite her bad credit.
She says when she asked a Shaw employee to find her an apartment on the North Side or in Hyde Park, he came back with an apartment in Chatham. Williams says she declined because she thought the neighborhood was unsafe for her and her two children, but Shaw’s rep did not refund her $ 1,000 deposit.
“Looking back, when you advertise to desperate people it’s always a red flag,” says Williams, who filed a lawsuit against the company in 2013 and recovered his down payment plus $ 179 in fees. of justice.
Shaw held the company’s management brokerage license. She was therefore supposed to supervise the operation and ensure that it complied with the law. But it was run from day to day by his father Jack Shaw.
“I am very proud of the work my dad did and the thousands of people he helped,” Shaw said.
The Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation filed an administrative complaint in 2013 against Shaw Real Estate Group, Anne Shaw, her father and brother-in-law Robert Sher, accusing them of deceptive marketing practices, of failing to act in the best interests of clients and unprofessional conduct. He cited Williams and 10 other former Shaw clients.
In March 2016, Anne Shaw signed an agreement with the agency acknowledging that she “had not adequately supervised the real estate activities of Shaw Real Estate Group and its employees.”
She received a reprimand – a step before suspending her real estate brokerage license – and was ordered to take continuing education courses.
Shaw says the state investigation and prosecution was a “coordinated effort” orchestrated by former Ald. Proco “Joe” Moreno (1st). Shaw ran unsuccessfully against Moreno for the Democratic Committee in 2012 and for Alderman in 2015.
She also lost a race last year for the state representative.
Moreno, who is no longer in office, was charged last year with insurance fraud, false reporting and obstruction of justice.
The Department of Financial and Professional Regulation fined Jack Shaw and Robert Sher and suspended their licenses. Shaw Real Estate Group’s license was suspended and he was fined $ 18,000.
Sher challenged his fine and suspension. The Illinois Court of Appeals ruled against him. “Taking substantial fees from members of the public less able to afford them and failing to provide the services promised violates the most basic principles of human decency, not to mention the basic standards to be expected of any licensed professional,” Judge d Mary Ann Mason’s appeal writes in a unanimous decision.
In its legal dealings, Shaw Real Estate Group has often been represented by Shaw Legal Services, Ltd., the Anne Shaw law firm founded in 2003.
Former Shaw Real Estate Group clients and the attorneys representing them who have treated Anne Shaw as a lawyer are wondering how she could be a judge.
“I couldn’t imagine anyone less fit,” says attorney Robert Augenlicht, who represents a former client of Shaw Real Estate in a lawsuit that has been pending for nearly five years. “A judge should avoid even the appearance of impropriety.”
Candace Williams has a harsher opinion.
“She shouldn’t even be a lawyer, let alone a judge,” Williams says.