Beaufort News

Realtor facing stolen property charges gets state commission hearing

Darrell Finch
Darrell Finch

A Hilton Head Island Realtor suspected of stealing jewelry from homes for sale on the island must appear before state real estate regulators later this year.

Darrell Finch, 38, is scheduled to appear Dec. 12 in Columbia before the S.C. Real Estate Commission to respond to a complaint recently filed against his state real estate license, according to a copy of the notice.

Finch is not required to attend the hearing, which would then be held in his absence, the notice said.

The notice did not specify who filed the complaint or if it was related to a charge filed against Finch in July by the Beaufort County Sheriff's Office. Finch faces one misdemeanor count of receiving stolen goods after a pendant reported stolen from a home for sale on Oyster Bay Place was found in his impounded vehicle.

Finch also faces six felony counts in Georgia, where he is accused of trying to sell jewelry reported stolen from other homes on the market to a Savannah pawn shop.

Jean Beck, executive director of the Hilton Head Area Association of Realtors, referred questions about the complaint to officials with the S.C. Department of Labor, Licensing and Regulation, who declined comment Wednesday.

During the hearing, Finch will hear the allegations against him and can cross-examine witnesses and offer evidence in his defense, according to labor department spokeswoman Lesia Kudelka.

The hearing could result in state regulators suspending or revoking Finch's license, which has been inactive since June when it was returned to the department by Maria Skrip, broker-in-charge at Re/Max Island Realty, where Finch once worked.

Skrip said she did not file the complaint against Finch but plans to attend the hearing and testify against her former employee.

"I want to make good and sure that ... he does not have a real estate license in South Carolina when he walks out of that door," Skrip said. "I take this whole thing real personally, ... and I'll be there with bells on."

Finch worked for Skrip from September 2009 until June, when Skrip was notified that he was suspected of stealing from homes for sale on the island. She fired him.

Skrip was criticized by other Realtors this summer for not performing a background check on Finch, who is on probation in Florida and Georgia, where he pleaded guilty in February 2011 to buying two Rolex watches using checks written from a closed bank account.

Skrip said she has not seen or talked to Finch since she fired him in June.

Sheriff's Office investigators continue to seek evidence linking Finch to the theft of jewelry from homes for sale on Hilton Head between April and late June but have not yet done so, Sgt. Robin McIntosh said.

No other charges have been filed against him, according to county court records.

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Local Realtor talks regrets, what she knew of former employee's past, Aug. 18, 2012

Tightening of licensing requirements sought in wake of charges against island real estate agent, July 21, 2012

Stolen jewelry found in Hilton Head real estate agent's car, authorities say, July 17, 2012