1. News
  2. /
  3. Business

Felon Tampa Bay Realtor accused of ‘fishy’ dealings faces possible loss of real estate license

Agent Michael J. Schaffer once worked closely with a disbarred lawyer.
screen grab of web page showing Realtor Michael Schaffer Screen grab of this page [WWW.TAMPABAYHOMEREALTOR.COM/TEAM | Screen grab]
Published Sep. 9
Updated Sep. 9

ST. PETE BEACH — A Pinellas County Realtor with a controversial past faces possible revocation of his real estate license.

In a recently filed complaint, Florida’s Department of Business and Professional Regulation says Michael J. Schaffer violated state law by failing to disclose two felony theft convictions. Real estate agents must report all convictions and guilty pleas to the Florida Real Estate Commission, which can revoke or suspend a license for crimes involving dishonest dealings.

State officials opened a case against Schaffer last year after the Tampa Bay Times reported on his criminal history, his ties to a disbarred lawyer and several suspicious transactions, one involving a woman with cancer who said Schaffer and the lawyer scammed her out of more than $100,000.

Schaffer obtained his Florida real estate license in 2001. A year later, he was indicted in Illinois, where he once lived, on charges of stealing nearly $40,000 from a clothing store. He pleaded guilty to two felony counts and was sentenced to 30 months probation. There was no evidence that he ever disclosed his crimes, a Florida official said last year.

"Please don’t call me again,'' Schaffer, 54, said Monday when a reporter phoned for comment. He then hung up.

Since becoming a Realtor in Florida, Schaffer has been the listing agent, selling agent or both in dozens of real estate transactions totaling almost $60 million. Records show that he has a Gulfport address but works out of Realty Resources on St. Pete Beach.

A screen grab of a web page showing Realtor Michael Schaffer. [] [WWW.TAMPABAYHOMEREALTOR.COM/TEAM | Screen grab]

Last year, Samuel Buck of Seminole filed a complaint with the Real Estate Commission after he lost out on the purchase of a villa that Schaffer had listed. Schaffer accepted a lower bid — from a Realtor in the same office — even though Buck’s bid was considerably higher. That Realtor relisted the villa for nearly $75,000 more than he had paid five days earlier.

Samuel Buck stands in front of the villa in Seminole that he lost out on even though he submitted an offer that was higher than the one accepted. [JIM DAMASKE | Times]

RELATED STORY: ‘Something fishy’ about sale of a golf-course villa in Seminole

Schaffer denied any wrongdoing at the time, and Buck said he never heard anything from the commission despite what he called the "fishy'' nature of the deal.

"I think it’s wonderful that they’re finally going to do something,'' Buck said Monday. "He should be held accountable for what he’s done and have his license revoked at the very least.''

Retired Gulfport teacher Marsha Warner said Schaffer and lawyer Andre Keith Sanders talked her into using $114,000 of her retirement funds in 2012 to help a buyer who needed downpayment assistance on a Tierra Verde townhouse. Warner received some monthly interest payments but was eventually told that all of her "investment'' had been lost.

Marsha Warner of Gulfport says was scammed out of more than $100,000 in a transaction involving Realtor Michael Schaffer. [SCOTT KEELER | Tampa Bay Times]

RELATED STORY: A felon Realtor, a disbarred lawyer and a shady sale

In fact, the men had used Warner’s money to pay off the mortgage on the townhouse, which had belonged to one of Sanders clients. It was then sold to Schaffer’s roommate and business partner, who flipped it — for a $163,000 profit.

"What these criminals did was a perfectly executed con,'' Warner’s lawyer Dianne Griffith said in a letter to the FBI. Despite her losses, the IRS has demanded that Warner, who is undergoing cancer treatment, pay $42,000 in back taxes, penalties and interest on the money she withdrew from her retirement account.

Schaffer did not respond to emailed questions about that case. Sanders, disbarred in 2015 for defrauding consumers in a debt-reduction scheme, died in February.

In its complaint, the business regulation department is asking the Real Estate Commission to impose a penalty on Schaffer that could range from a reprimand to license revocation. He is entitled to a hearing before the commission. No date has been set.


  1. Homeowner Cheryl Murdoch, 59, explains the workings of the Philips Smart Mirror in her bathroom. Murdoch and her husband live in the Epperson neighborhood in Wesley Chapel, home of the Crystal Lagoon, where some residents are piloting new health technologies inside their homes. SCOTT KEELER  |   Times
    In Pasco’s Crystal Lagoon community, AdventHealth and Metro Development Group are testing in-home technology aimed at keeping people away from the hospital.
  2. A company called Flock Safety is selling automatic license plate readers to neighborhood associations to cut down on crime, and Tampa neighborhood Paddock Oaks is one of their customers. Pictured is a Flock camera on Paddock Oaks Dr. | [Luis Santana | Times] LUIS SANTANA  |  Times
    Atlanta-based Flock Safety has provided 14 area communities with high-speed, high-definition cameras for surveillance.
  3. An American Airlines Boeing 737 Max 8 aircraft approaches Miami International Airport for landing in March. Bloomberg
    The 60-year-old veteran airline employee told investigators he was upset that union contract negotiations had stalled.
  4. Lilly Beth Rodriguez, left, Laura Robertson and Linda Lamont work on a Habitat for Humanity house in north Pasco. [Times (2013)]
    The increase is expected to happen in the first half of next year. CEO hopes other nonprofits follow suit.
  5. The number of single-family homes sold in the Tampa Bay area during August rose 2.8 percent when compared with the same month last year, according to a monthly report from Florida Realtors. (Times file photo)
    The midpoint price in the bay area rose to $250,000, which is still lower than the state and national median prices.
  6. The Aldi store located on 1551 34th St N, St. Petersburg, Florida in 2018, features its updated layout. JONES, OCTAVIO   |  Tampa Bay Times
    The store will re-open after renovations on Thursday, Sept. 26
  7. Jessica LaBouve, a penetration tester for cybersecurity company A-LIGN, poses for a portrait in the A-LIGN office on Thursday, Sept. 12, 2019 in Tampa. Companies hire A-LIGN to figure out where their digital security weak spots are, and LaBouve is one of the "benevolent hackers" that finds them. ALLIE GOULDING  |  Times
    Jessica LaBouve of A-LIGN works with companies to make their applications and platforms more secure.
  8. Stephen A. Schwarzman, CEO of the Blackstone Group, speaks at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland, earlier this year. MARKUS SCHREIBER  |  AP
    The billionaire also talks trade with China in an interview with the Tampa Bay Times.
  9. The economies of Canada and Florida go together like, well, palm fronds and maple leaves, as seen outside the Sweetwater RV Resort in Zephyrhills. (Times file photo) KATE CALDWELL  |  Tampa Bay Times
    To qualify under the proposed Canadian Snowbirds Act, visitors would have to be older than 50 and would have to own or rent a home here.
  10. Tampa investor and owner of the Tampa Bay Lightning Jeff Vinik, right, speaks about his investments in the video game industry at the eSports Summit Wednesday in Tampa as Matt Samost, Vice President of New Ventures for Tampa Bay Sports and Entertainment looks on. LUIS SANTANA   |   TIMES  |  Tampa Bay Times
    A summit at USF brought together major players and explored the possibility of an esports arena.