Be aware, I am not an attorney and the following is not legal advise. What follows is a path to assess the situation and the cooperative nature of those with whom you must work. If you are not the effected party, no one is obligated to reveal anything to you regarding these specific funds.
Check your three year old paperwork and identify who is holding the earnest money. This is most likely an attorney or title company, if title companies are used in NY. Inquire regarding the process to obtain a release of these funds. They will most likely say the broker must authorize the release or 3 years is too long to wait. Don't sign anything, you are just gathering information.
Next, contact the broker for whom the agent worked. Inquire regarding the process for obtaining the release of these funds. Balance what the attorney/title company say with what the broker states. The prime focus of your attention is to get the broker to take action. This is the most direct path to success. Don't sign anything, you are just gathering information.
Now, evaluate the dollar amount involved. IF you can not achieve satisfaction with the above approaches, both the title company/attorney and Broker created obstacles, or they advised you must have an attorney file the appropriate documents, you will need to consult an attorney. They, unlike real estate professional. seldom work for FREE. Even if you FIRE them, they WILL get paid. Only you can evaluate if the attorney and associated fees consume the amount of the earnest deposit.
OR, as others have stated, go straight to an attorney and follow his/her instruction.
Best of success to you,
Annette Lawrence, Broker/Associate
Remax Realtec Group
This is definitely a matter for an Attorney to handle. You posted about this here in New York, so if this transaction took place in New York (downstate) then an Attorney must have been involved to hold the escrow money. In any event, I recommend you retain the services of a good real estate Attorney to resolve this matter.