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Appraiser, real estate agent await decision

After an administrative hearing in Syracuse last month, Rochester-based real estate broker Gerard Curre and his brother, appraiser Lucien Curre, are awaiting a decision on improper appraisal allegations of several mobile home parks.

A law judge from the Department of State’s Office of Administrative Hearings is currently reviewing allegations including the filing of deficient, fraudulent and undervalued appraisals of mobile home park properties in Yates and Ontario counties, and of not having proper licensing credentials with the state, among other charges. 

The complaint was filed in November 2011 by Department of State Division of Licensing Services Senior Attorney Linda Cleary based on the Curres’ appraisals of mobile home properties owned by their client, Robert Houle in 2008.

“My expertise is in selling mobile home parks,” said Gerard Curre, who operates the family owned business, Rochester Commercial Real Estate Co. Inc., with his brother, Lucien.

“This is silly stuff, and it’s because of the type of industry I work in. The complaint was just a misunderstanding,” Gerard Curre said.

The Curres’ attorney, Paul J. Goldman of Segel, Goldman, Mazzotta & Siegel PC in Albany, said there has not been a final determination of the case yet, but expects his clients to be vindicated.

“I think it’s going to be fine,” he said. “The substance of the claim is [Houle] thinks the appraisal report prepared by the Curres was artificially low. The truth is he’s had plenty of opportunities to litigate this issue before. If he had a meritorious claim, it would have been dealt with already.”

Goldman said he believes the doctrine of res judicata applies to the current case since Houle’s claims have been litigated before.

Houle owned numerous mobile home parks in upstate New York, and was accused by the attorney general’s office of being in violation of health code violations in 16 of those locations.

Houle filed for bankruptcy in May 2008 and maintained the Curres’ appraisals were fraudulent in a foreclosure action on one of the properties, Willow Creek Mobile Home Park on Route 21 in Manchester.

Acting Ontario County Supreme Court Justice William F. Kocher precluded Houle from continually raising the claim that the fair market value of the properties was significantly higher than reported in the appraisal.

“[D]efendant has not now, or ever presented objective evidence of the fair market value of the property as of the date of the foreclosure sale in 2008,” Justice Kocher said in July 2011 in the foreclosure case of CVM Partners 1 LLC v. Robert T. Houle.

“When those things sold, they sold at Curres’ values,” Goldman said, adding that Houle also used the Curres’ appraisal values in his bankruptcy schedules. “We’re just waiting for the administrative judge’s determination on the licenses.”

Messages seeking comment from Division of Licensing Services attorney Linda Cleary and a spokesman for the Department of State were not returned by press time.

Gerard Curre said both he and his brother have always been lawfully licensed.

“When [Lucien] came up for renewal, they said he still had to take one course, which he did online as soon as he heard about it,” Gerard Curre said.

In his own case, the licensing misunderstanding has to do with the fact that some documents refer to him as Gerard while others refer to him as Jerry, his more common name, he said.