A woman who operated a mortgage rescue company in the Augusta area entered a not-guilty plea Wednesday afternoon to federal charges of mail fraud and money laundering.
Regina M. Preetorius, 45, who now lives in Goodyear, Ariz., made her first appearance this week in U.S. District Court in Augusta, where
any trial would take place. U.S. Magistrate Judge W. Leon Barfield set a $20,000 secured bond for Preetorius.
She was indicted Aug. 8 on 13 criminal charges related to her former company, SDA & Associates. Preetorius promised investors a safe way to earn interest while their money – more than $1.7 million, according to the indictment – would save distressed homeowners from foreclosure.
In reality, Preetorius played an illegal shell game, according to the indictment. Some investors lost their life savings, people who thought they were buying homes through lease-purchase agreements with SDA were evicted, and homeowners desperate to avoid foreclosure lost any equity they had in their property after mortgage holders foreclosed.
The indictment accuses Preetorius of obtaining money and property by lying and other fraudulent pretenses from 2004 through 2009 while “aided and abetted by others.”
No one else is named in the indictment, however.
Assistant U.S. Attorney David M. Stewart told the judge that Preetorius’ attorney will have complete access to 10,000 documents and any additional material that investigators find.
FBI special agent Paul Kubala is the lead investigator in the case.
Barfield set a 10-day deadline for filing defense motions, but indicated he will extend the deadline if Preetorius’ attorney needs more time to prepare.