BRE Wrongfully Denies Broker’s License to Applicant Who Established Rehabilitation After Fraud Conviction

Dave Singh was born in India, became a U.S. citizen at age 21, and worked for the FBI and later as a police officer. He was the head of household of extended family members, many of whom did not speak English. Singh’s elderly father received government assistance to cover the cost of receiving care at home from another family member. With Singh’s knowledge, these payments continued even during three months when Singh’s father returned to India. After a fraud investigation, Singh was convicted of grand theft.


In 2006, Singh applied for a real estate broker’s license, which application was denied because he did not show remorse for his actions—specifically he refused to admit to the crime. Singh reapplied in 2008 but the BRE (Bureau of Real Estate) filed a statement opposing his application, citing his misdemeanor conviction and prior license denial.


The Commissioner can deny a license to an applicant convicted of a crime substantially related to the qualifications, functions or duties of a real estate licensee. (B&P Code §§ 480(a) and 1077(b).) However, the license cannot be denied if the applicant has shown rehabilitation. The BRE has developed 14 criteria to determine rehabilitation of an applicant who committed a crime, arguably the most important being change in attitude.


The Commissioner denied the application because Singh refused to admit responsibility for his crime and was thus held not sufficiently rehabilitated.


After a hearing, an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) found that Singh had complied with many of the rehabilitation criteria by paying restitution, completing probation, maintaining a stable family and community life, and assuming responsibility and for his crime. Notwithstanding these findings, the ALJ denied Singh’s application given the dishonest nature of his crime which was committed while he was a police officer sworn to uphold the law. The ALJ ruled it would not be in the public’s interest to allow him to start his career as an unsupervised broker.


The BRE adopted the ALJ’s ruling and Singh appealed, arguing the BRE abused his discretion. The trial court agreed with Singh and ordered the BRE to issue a broker’s license to Singh.


The BRE appealed. The Court of Appeal affirmed the trial court’s order, finding that the Commissioner’s decision to deny Singh a broker’s license was improperly based solely on the nature of his prior crime, rather than his inadequate rehabilitation.


Singh v. Davi (2012) 211 Cal.App.4th 141