Assault, break-ins and driving infractions: Criminal record lands realtor in trouble

Mike O’Neill’s long and sometimes violent criminal record doesn’t necessarily disqualify him from acting as a real estate agent in B.C. But not reporting that record to his professional regulator is a different matter.

Langley's Mike O'Neill disciplined over failure to report charges to Real Estate Council of B.C.

Mike O'Neill worked for Performance Power Play Realty in Langley before he was suspended. (David Horemans/CBC)

Langley Realtor Mike O'Neill's long and sometimes violent criminal record doesn't necessarily disqualify him from acting as a real estate agent in B.C.

But not reporting that record to his professional regulator is a different matter.

For that act of professional misconduct, O'Neill's licence has been suspended for one month, and he's been ordered to pay penalties and expenses totalling $3,500 to the Real Estate Council of B.C.

O'Neill, whose first name is spelled as Micheal in court records, is currently awaiting trial on allegations he broke into a rural Surrey home and used a weapon to assault the man and woman inside.

But those charges were only laid after O'Neill found himself mired in discipline proceedings with the real estate council over his previously unreported criminal history.

Those proceedings began when it came to light that O'Neill had failed to let the council or his managing broker know about his charges for drunk driving and assault, as well as a conviction for driving without due care and attention, according to a recent consent order. They make up just a portion of O'Neill's criminal record, which stretches as far back as 1980.

And yet, when he filed to renew his real estate licence in 2015, he answered "No" when asked whether he'd ever been convicted of, or is currently charged with, any criminal or other offence.

No intentional attempt to mislead

O'Neill told the council he wasn't aware he needed to report charges under the Motor Vehicle Act, and he believed he only needed to report criminal offences when he renewed his licence.

"He acknowledges that his beliefs were incorrect. He has advised the council that he did not intentionally attempt to mislead the council," the consent order says.

The council says it's waiting for the pending legal proceedings to wrap up against O'Neill before determining if he'll be allowed to keep his licence.

In an email, a real estate council spokesperson said: "A criminal conviction will not necessarily be a bar to registration. Consideration is given to various factors such as the nature of the offence, the age of the applicant at the time the offence was committed, the length of the sentence, and whether the offence is related to the responsibilities of the applicant."

A representative at Performance Power Play Realty in Langley, O'Neill's former brokerage, would not say whether O'Neill is expected to return to work there.

O'Neill spent time in an Ontario jail for break and enter before he became a real estate agent in B.C. (Getty Images)

This isn't the first time O'Neill has neglected to mention his criminal record to the professional regulator.

When he applied for a B.C. real estate licence for the first time in 1991, he wrote in the relevant disclosure section, "[i]n 1980 (approx.) I was convicted of Break and Entry to which served sixty days in a correctional institution in London, Ontario."

However, the council would soon discover that his full record included drug possession in 1980, two separate convictions for break and enters in 1982 and 1983 and theft under $200.

The council opted to take no action against O'Neill for omitting that information but warned him in a letter that "any further incidence in you making a false application would be viewed most seriously by this Council."

Latest charges date to 2013

His more recent criminal history, outlined in detail in the council's consent order, began in November 2013, when he was criminally charged with drunk driving. He was convicted a year later of the lesser charge of driving without due care under the Motor Vehicle Act and sentenced to a three-month driving prohibition and a $2,000 fine.

Neither offence was reported to the council.

He also didn't notify the regulator when he was charged with assault on two separate occasions in May 2015 and April 2016. Those charges ended in one guilty finding and one conviction on a lesser charge, both resulting in a year of probation.

It was only after O'Neill was charged with assault, once again in September 2016, that he told his managing broker and then the real estate council. That charge was later dismissed.

Since then, he's also informed the council about a charge of uttering threats, which was also dismissed, and two more for breaching an undertaking, which resulted in a conditional discharge and two years of probation.

O'Neill is scheduled to go on trial in June on charges of break and enter and assault with a weapon stemming from an incident in Surrey on Nov. 30, 2016.

His real estate licence is set to expire on May 20.

About the Author

Bethany Lindsay

Journalist

Bethany Lindsay has more than a decade of experience in B.C. journalism, with a focus on the courts, health and social justice issues. She has also reported on human rights and crimes against humanity in Cambodia. Questions or news tips? Get in touch at bethany.lindsay@cbc.ca or on Twitter through @bethanylindsay.

Comments

To encourage thoughtful and respectful conversations, first and last names will appear with each submission to CBC/Radio-Canada's online communities (except in children and youth-oriented communities). Pseudonyms will no longer be permitted.

By submitting a comment, you accept that CBC has the right to reproduce and publish that comment in whole or in part, in any manner CBC chooses. Please note that CBC does not endorse the opinions expressed in comments. Comments on this story are moderated according to our Submission Guidelines. Comments are welcome while open. We reserve the right to close comments at any time.