I called a half dozen of the references that I received from Realtor #3. Interestingly, every one was more than glad to talk with me and a couple even called back when I was only able to leave a message.
The good news is that they were all enthusiastically positive. I was provided three full sheets of names and I randomly picked names, so if he cherry picked all of these names, I'd be surprised.
Unfortunately, Realtor #1, my initial first choice, seems to have decided to withdraw, leaving me with, "read the anonymous comments on my website, I will not share real customer contact information".
I appreciate the comments, feedback and hand holding thus far.