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Sometimes Real Estate Agents Take Money from Homeowners the Old-Fashioned Way

My colleague Chad Syverson passed along the following news clipping, although as a native North Dakotan, he swears this sort of thing would never happen in North Dakota (only in Moorhead, Minnesota which is right across the state line):
Former Realtor ordered to pay fine for attempted theft

By Amy Dalrymple

The Forum – 06/10/2005

A former real estate agent pleaded guilty Thursday to attempting to steal nearly $800 from a freezer during an open house.

A Clay County District Court judge ordered Kathryn Grady-Thurston, 56, to pay a $500 fine and placed her on one year of unsupervised probation for gross misdemeanor attempted theft.

Grady-Thurston, 1361 5th St. N., Fargo, admitted in court she went to an open house on Feb. 6 in Moorhead and took a bag of cash out of a kitchen freezer.

She returned the money after another real estate agent caught her with the cash and told her to put it back, she testified.

“It was just basically a stupid impulse,” Grady-Thurston said, adding she’d never done anything like it before.

A felony charge was dismissed under a plea agreement. If Grady-Thurston completes her probation, the conviction will become a misdemeanor, said Clay County District Judge Galen Vaa.

“This is a strange incident, and I’m sure you thought many times (about) why you did what you did,” Vaa said.

Defense attorney Bruce Quick said Grady-Thurston did not wish to comment.

Quick said he did not know how Grady-Thurston was aware there was cash in the freezer, but he said it’s common for real estate agents to inspect appliances.

Grady-Thurston was fired from Metro Realty after the incident and her real estate licenses in Minnesota and North Dakota were canceled, real estate broker Dan Madsen said in April.

Grady-Thurston said in court she worked as a Realtor for more than 20 years.

According to court records and an interview with victim Steven Vigesaa:

Grady-Thurston looked at the home at 6201 Oakport St. N. before the open house, which was hosted by Kvamme Real Estate agent Darrin Wixo.

When she arrived at the open house, Grady-Thurston said she was waiting for clients, but they never arrived.

At some point she was in the kitchen with Wixo when he left the room to talk to prospective buyers.

Wixo told authorities he heard some noise in the kitchen and returned to find Grady-Thurston trying to hide something.

Vigesaa said his wife used the freezer as a hiding place.

Looking on the bright side, at least it wasn’t her own client she was stealing from. Isn’t a real estate agent supposed to extract as much as possible from the person on the other side of the deal? Maybe she just got carried away with esprit-de-corps.