VERNAL — An award-winning real estate broker has been stripped of his license by state regulators and fined for forging termite inspection records and other documents needed to obtain Federal Housing Administration loans.
The Utah Real Estate Commission revoked Kyle David Ashworth's broker license earlier this month and ordered him to pay a $75,000 fine.
"The commission appreciates the Division of Real Estate for bringing this case for action, despite Mr. Ashworth's attempts to evade regulators," Commission Chairman Kay R. Ashton said in a statement announcing the sanctions.
"Kyle Ashworth's criminal activity was very concerning as a risk to the community, so swift action against his license was necessary," Ashton added.
Ashworth was sentenced in November to serve one month in the Uintah County Jail for his convictions on eight counts of forgery and six counts of communications fraud, all third-degree felonies.
Ashworth, 31, forged the signatures of two developers, as well as the signature of a pest control company owner on documents sent to mortgage lenders to obtain FHA loans for prospective buyers, according to court records filed as part of his guilty plea.
"Kyle Ashworth's criminal activity was very concerning as a risk to the community, so swift action against his license was necessary."
The forgeries took place between February 2011 and September 2012, according to Vernal police, who investigated the case along with the inspector general's office for the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.
Ashworth was initially charged with a combined 53 felony counts of forgery, communications fraud and engaging in a pattern of unlawful activity. As part of a plea deal reached in August, a judge dismissed 38 of those charges at the request of prosecutors.
In 2012, Ashworth was named Coldwell Banker's top sales agent for its affiliate offices in Utah. He is also a recipient of the Uintah Basin Board of Realtors Presidential Award, and for the past two years has been the public face in the Uintah Basin of the Vernal Towne Center — a 26-acre retail project being built by Gardner Development, the same firm behind The Gateway in Salt Lake City.
Court records, however, show the forgeries Ashworth committed were all related to residential properties. None of the homes have experienced problems with termites, and all have now undergone "appropriate termite treatment," according to Ashworth's attorney.
In addition to the jail time, a judge ordered Ashworth to serve three years on probation, complete 30 hours of community service, pay a $1,500 fine and make restitution to his victims.
Ashworth has two years to pay the $75,000 fine imposed by the Real Estate Commission. He cannot re-apply for a real estate license in Utah for at least five years.