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Augusta real estate agent steals from client’s home and sells item online, report says

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An Augusta real estate agent stole a glass top desk from a client’s home and then advertised it for sale online, according to authorities.

Michael Parnell, a real estate agent with RE/MAX River Realty, is charged with theft by taking.

Posted by RE/MAX River Realty on Friday, September 11, 2020

An Appling woman said the home on Sylvester Drive belonged to her grandmother, who passed away. She was organizing and tagging the belongings for an estate sale, and the only other people with access to the residence were real estate agents who were showing the residence for sale.

Sometime last week, someone removed several times, including a glass top table, an electric candle warmer, two ice trays, a Rubbermaid pitcher and an E-reader.

The Appling victim began to look on Facebook Marketplace to see if any of the stolen items appeared there, and she located the glass top desk posted by Parnell.

“She was advised by her own real estate agent that Parnell was one of the agents who had shown the residence on Dec. 2,” a sheriff’s report says.

Parnell, 38, of Indian Trail Court, was arrested last Friday on a single count of theft by taking, a misdemeanor. He is free on bond and didn’t return a phone call seeking comment. (Story continues below.)

Michael Parnell, from Facebook

Michael Lops, manager at RE/MAX River Realty of North Augusta, said that Parnell is no longer affiliated with his company after the arrest. He said the Greater Augusta Association of Realtors is looking into the theft case “to see if they want to take further actions.”

“I have no idea why he did it,” Lops said. “It’s a very strange thing.”

But at least one other homeowner, Biagio Prestifilippo, said that he alerted the real estate company in September about his concerns that Parnell’s suspicious activity at his home, which he was selling.

Prestifilippo has videos that shows Parnell at his home on Canterbury Drive for over an hour. He said he later found steaks and an Apple Watch missing.

Parnell has not been charged in that case, but Prestifilippo said the real estate company should have acted on his suspicions.

Biagio Prestifilippo captured this video, which he says shows the suspect walking around his house in September.

“He was supposed to be a real estate agent,” Prestifilippo said. “I called his brokerage and shared the videos and the footage. … They didn’t believe me.”

Lops said that Prestifilippo only had suspicions and videos that did not show an actual theft. Lops also encouraged the homeowner to file a police report if he believed a theft occurred, which Prestifilippo never did.

Greg Rickabaugh is the Jail Report Contributor for The Augusta Press. Reach him at [email protected] 

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