News Release

Commissioner Holly C. Bakke

For Immediate Release:   November 18, 2002

For Further Information::   Mary Caffrey or Ellen Lovejoy - (609) 292-5064


TRENTON, N.J. - The Real Estate Commission in the New Jersey Department of Banking and Insurance is investigating claims that an agent stole money from charities set up for victims of the September 11 terrorist attacks.

"We know about it and have opened a case and are proceeding with an investigation,'' said Dawn Rafferty, Executive Director of the Real Estate Commission. "We can not comment further because of our active investigation and the investigation by law enforcement agencies.''

Recently published reports indicate that Evelyn Wellens, 42, a real estate agent from Edgewater Park, was arrested and charged with stealing from September 11th-related agencies.

Conviction of the theft charges could affect Wellens' license status, said Rafferty, who explained that convictions of certain crimes are grounds to strip agents of their licenses.

According to the published reports, the alleged scheme also involved Wellens' boyfriend, Matthew Weissman, who also was arrested.

Wellens allegedly applied for emergency funds, claiming that she had lost her job in Weissman's lower Manhattan law office near the World Trade Center, and was being evicted from her home, according to the Associated Press.

Weissman allegedly gave Wellens a fake job-verification letter and a false eviction notice, according to the reports.

"If these despicable allegations are proven true, we do not want this person to have a license that allows her to go into other people's homes,'' said Rafferty.

The department is not releasing the name of the real estate broker as the agency was not involved in the alleged crimes, according to Rafferty.

The department's investigation is part of its overall commitment to protect the consumers and residents of New Jersey, Commissioner Holly Bakke said.