Fraud trial of businesswoman Regina Preetorius opens

Business fail not a crime, defense says

Another unfortunate casualty of the banking crisis of 2008 or a schemer who stole and left others in financial ruin – a federal jury began hearing evidence Monday to determine which is the more accurate description of Regina Preetorius.


Prosecutors and defense attorneys laid out their version of what happened between 2004 and 2009 in Preetorius’ “foreclosure rescue” business.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Da­vid Stewart said Preetorius used her company SDA & Asso­ciates to defraud three types of victims: distressed homeowners, investors and renters.

Preetorius convinced home­owners they could walk away from their mortgage debt and get a fresh start by signing over their homes to her. Instead, she put the homes in her name and loaded more debt onto the properties, Stewart said.

Investors were promised 12 to 15 percent interest on their investments that were backed by collateral, security deeds on property and signed promissory notes. Investors lost hundreds of thousands of dollars when the security deeds proved useless when banks holding the original mortgages foreclosed.

Renters who made down payments and monthly rent payments to Preetorius found themselves evicted when banks foreclosed on property they thought they were buying from her in lease-purchase agreements, Stewart said.

Defense attorney Chuck Portz said Preetorius’ business made countless successful transactions from 2003 to 2007.

When the country suffered the banking crisis, she couldn’t get banks to give her the information needed to pay off original mortgages and could no longer help renters get traditional loans to buy homes, Portz said. He said Preetorius didn’t defraud anyone.

Preetorius and her family also lost everything, Portz said.

“A failed business venture is not a crime,” he said.