US real estate agent accused of selling real estate illegally

JACKSONVILLE, Fla.

— A Florida real estate broker accused of illegally selling his own property was sentenced to three years in prison Thursday for selling his home in the upscale neighborhood of Jacksonville to someone who never lived there.

Judge Richard G. Smith sentenced James B. Harkness, 59, to three and a half years in state prison for selling a home in Jacksonville’s downtown core, according to court records.

He was also ordered to pay restitution of more than $100,000 to the real estate firm he allegedly sold.

Harkness pleaded guilty in January to fraudulently offering to sell a house for $1.1 million, court records show.

The criminal complaint alleged Harkess sold a home that never existed.

The lawsuit also alleged Halkness used forged documents to buy the home.

The alleged fraudulent sale of the house in the downtown core occurred in 2016, according in court records, and the alleged fraudulent selling of the home in 2016 was in the city of Jacksonville.

The criminal complaint against Harknesses said he made multiple false representations to an agent for an estate agent who is not a realtor.

The complaint alleges Harknes made false representations about the value of the property.

The complaint also alleged he misrepresented that the property was vacant when he sold it to someone.

Halknes was indicted in January 2016 and pleaded guilty to charges of fraudulency and fraud in April.

Harksons attorney, William G. Brown, said in a statement that the plea agreement is a victory for Florida realtorship.

Brown said the case was a clear violation of the Florida Statutes.

Brown also said Harkns actions are a violation of federal law, which prohibits the sale of real estate that is not vacant and the sale to someone that does not exist.