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Handelsman v. Division of New Jersey Real Estate Commission

Decided: June 6, 1968.

LESTER HANDELSMAN, APPELLANT,
v.
DIVISION OF NEW JERSEY REAL ESTATE COMMISSION, RESPONDENT



Goldmann, Kilkenny and Carton. The opinion of the court was delivered by Carton, J.A.D.

Carton

Lester Handelsman appeals from an order of the Division of New Jersey Real Estate Commission revoking his real estate broker's license and directing that no license be issued to him for a period of five years. The Commission concluded that his conviction in the United States District Court for New Jersey of causing false statements to be made to the Federal Housing Administration, to which he had pleaded nolo contendere, was within the purview of N.J.S.A. 45:15-19.1 necessitating revocation of his license.

N.J.S.A. 45:15-19.1 provides:

"When, during the term of any license issued by the commission, the licensee shall be convicted in a court of competent jurisdiction in the State of New Jersey or any State (including Federal courts) of forgery, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses, extortion, criminal conspiracy to defraud, or other like offense or offenses and a duly certified or exemplified copy of the record in such proceedings shall be filed with the commission, the commission shall revoke forthwith the license by it theretofore issued to the licensee so convicted."

The companion section, N.J.S.A. 45:15-12.1, in pertinent part, provides:

"No license shall be issued by the Commission to any person known by it to have been, within five years theretofore, convicted of forgery, embezzlement, obtaining money under false pretenses, extortion, criminal conspiracy to defraud or other like offense or offenses * * *."

The Commission made the additional determination that appellant's activities demonstrated conduct showing unworthiness and dishonesty, in violation of N.J.S.A. 45:15-17(e), as well as evidencing conduct constituting fraud or dishonest dealing, in violation of N.J.S.A. 45:15-17(1).

The facts are not in dispute. On December 19, 1965 a federal grand jury indicated appellant on a six-count indictment charging him with causing certain false statements to be made and uttered to the Federal Housing Administration and Veteran's Home Administration in connection with applications for various mortgage loans and mortgage insurance, in violation of 18 U.S.C.A. ยงยง 1010, 1001 and 2. On June 23, 1967 he entered a plea of nolo contendere to the second count of that indictment charging him with willfully and knowingly causing to be made to F.H.A. false statements in a commitment for insurance for the purpose of obtaining a mortgage loan upon premises in Teaneck, New Jersey. He was sentenced to prison for one year but the sentence was suspended. He was also fined $3,000 and placed on probation for two years. The Commission conducted a hearing on September 13, 1967, on the basis of which the order appealed from was issued.

The first point urged by appellant is that the Legislature invalidly delegated law-making powers to the Commission in that there are no adequate standards giving meaning or guidelines to the phrase "other like offense or offenses" as it appears in the statute. On the contrary, we are satisfied that the statute is valid and does not vest legislative or law-making powers in the Commission.

The presence of general terms in the statute does not of itself render it invalid. The test is whether "measured by common understanding it fairly and adequately conveys its meaning to all concerned." Laba v. Newark Board of Education, 23 N.J. 364, 384 (1957). It is sufficiently explicit if it informs "those subject to action thereunder as to the conduct which will render them liable to its penalties." Abelson's Inc. v. New Jersey State Board of Optometrists, 5 N.J. 412, 424 (1950).

The design of the statute was "to create and maintain a commission to scrutinize in general and with care the character, competency, and integrity of license applicants and license holders to the end that in the interest of the public welfare, incompetent, unworthy and unscrupulous persons would be excluded from the real estate brokerage business." Division of N.J. Real Estate Comm'n v. Ponsi, 39 N.J. Super. 526, 532-33 (App. Div. 1956). As the legislative report which accompanied the statute indicates, one of the main purposes of its enactment was the prevention or curtailment of fraudulent practices among brokers and their agents. That business is one in which great trust must be placed in the broker, and those who have a demonstrated history of fraudulent ...


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