RICHMOND, VA (WWBT) – New information tonight about a former Henrico County police officer convicted of running an elaborate real estate scheme in Richmond. Prosecutors have said Donald Lacey was running a ponzi scheme. Meaning, he was taking money from one set of investors to pay another, instead of using actual profits to make those payments. Now a state agency has taken away his license to practice.
Donald Lacey told investors he would put their money in properties around Richmond. He was supposed to fix the homes and then sell them for a profit. He promised big returns. But Lacey admitted in federal court, he rarely used the money on these properties. In March he pleaded guilty to mail fraud and engaging in illegal transactions with money. In one instance he admitted to taking $55,000 intended to rehab a house in Church Hill, and used the money to pay his American Express Account.
"When the conviction involves money and real estate agents, the board does not look kindly on that," said Mary Broz-Vaughan, a spokesperson for the state Real Estate Board. The agency licenses 60,000 agents and more than 8,000 firms in Virginia.
Lacey started Hermitage Realty more than 10 years ago. He turned in his license the day after pleading guilty to the federal charges. There's still a small sign on the outside of a Henrico County office building, but neighbors say he closed up Hermitage Realty and moved out last fall. The Real Estate Board officially revoked his license this month, citing unworthiness and incompetence.
"He can no longer practice real estate, and his firm Hermitage Realty ceases to exist," said Vaughan.
Lacey will be sentenced in federal court in June. He faces up to 30 years in prison, $500,000 in fines and could be ordered to forfeit properties and pay restitution to his victims.
If you have questions about one of your real estate dealings, or want to file a complaint with the Real Estate Board, call 804-367-8504.