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Former Augusta businesswoman gets lengthy federal prison sentence for real estate fraud scheme

Wednesday, April 16, 2014 1:43 PM
Last updated Thursday, April 17, 2014 1:53 AM
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The former Augusta area businesswoman who turned the American dream into a nightmare that has yet to end for many people was sentenced Wednesday to 24 years in prison.

Regenia Preetorius was sentenced Wednesday to 24 years in prison.  JIM BLAYLOCK/FILE
JIM BLAYLOCK/FILE
Regenia Preetorius was sentenced Wednesday to 24 years in prison.


U.S. District Court Judge J. Randal Hall sentenced Regina Preetorius, 47, to the near maximum possible because of the extent of the financial damage left in her wake, and for Preetorius’ continued determination to blame others for her misdeeds.

In looking up synonyms for the phrase “con artist,” Hall said he found one that most accurately described Preetorius — “land pirate”.

Preetorius and “her band of participants” that included her family and two local lawyers “who at minimum should be beyond shamed” pillaged and looted people in dire financial straits and those who sought a way to supplement their income, some of whom were in their retirement years, Hall said.

What was so fascinating in the tragic story was the extreme cross section of the community that in seeking out the American dream of home ownership and financial security unfortunately crossed Preetorius’ path, Hall said, “and their American dream became a nightmare.”

But Preetorius continued to insist that she was the victim. After The Augusta Chronicle exposed her scheme, Preetorius claimed she was innocent of wrongdoing in bankruptcy court in August 2008 — professing as much to FBI Special Agent Paul Kubala and IRS Special Agent Roger Garland even as they built the damning criminal case against her — and did so again Wednesday.

It was the banking industry, the newspaper, the federal agents, the courts, the legal community, and even the people she was accused of defrauding who are responsible for her ruin, Preetorius tearfully told the judge.

“Whatever happens here today I have a clear conscious,” Preetorius said. “No one has suffered more than my family,” she said.

On Sept. 24 after seven days of testimony in U.S. District Court in Augusta, a jury convicted Preetorius of 10 counts of wire and mail fraud and three counts of money laundering.

By 2008 the business Preetorius created, SDA & Associates, was in tatters. It had been an elaborate and intricate fraud, but still a Ponzi scheme.

Preetorius persuaded financially distressed homeowners to turn over their property to her to save them from possible foreclosure, convinced others they could buy properties through rent-to-own contracts, and aggressively sought out investors with the promise of guaranteed safety through property deeds and liens.

It ended with dozens of foreclosures and bankruptcy and the loss of life savings.

According to the pre-sentencing report which Hall adopted, Preetorius defrauded 39 victims out of nearly $1.5 million.

Preetorius’ sentencing range was greatly enhanced because of the large financial loss of the victims, the sophistication of the scheme and intensive planning used, the targeting of vulnerable victims, the abuse of a position of trust, obstruction of justice, and her role as leader of the ruse.

Preetorius faced a sentencing range of 235 to 293 months with restitution of $1,457,375.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Christopher Troy Clark asked the judge to impose the maximum sentence possible, citing the financial catastrophe she caused and the extent of her criminality.

Hall set her punishment at 280 months for what he described as the one of the most disgraceful real estate schemes he has witnessed in his legal career.

Hall ordered Preetorius to pay full restitution, but in reality the victims will continue to suffer financially as a consequence of her piracy, he said.

After the sentencing hearing, Connie Stewart, who lost the home she grew up in because of Preetorius, and Barbara Francis, whose mother’s rental property is still in SDA & Associate’s name in property records, both said they knew they would never recover the financial loss. But, they said, Wednesday was still a good day with a good outcome.

Comments (28) Add comment
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OJP
7779
Points
OJP 04/16/14 - 01:30 pm
12
11
The difference between this sentence and the sentences

of those involved in the 2008 crash is pretty glaring and disturbing.

This person likely deserves a harsh sentence, but not nearly as harsh as those that should have been imposed against the criminals who caused the financial crash.

Just goes to show that your level of justice is largely determined by the size of your wallet.

KSL
144785
Points
KSL 04/16/14 - 01:44 pm
16
8
Yea, let's go after Barney

Yea, let's go after Barney Frank and company.

OJP
7779
Points
OJP 04/16/14 - 01:57 pm
8
19
@KSL

You are woefully uninformed if you think Barney Frank and/or the federal government forced the financial institutions to commit fraud to make a quick buck.

Riverman1
94333
Points
Riverman1 04/16/14 - 02:38 pm
21
3
Barney and Friends

Oh, that's right, Barney Frank was not involved with the government mandating loans to low income borrowers. He also didn't know the young male prostitute he lived with was running a prostitution ring out of his house. He was just at the wrong place at the right time always.

Marinerman1
5499
Points
Marinerman1 04/16/14 - 02:44 pm
15
4
@OJP

The failure started with president Clinton, the Monica Lewinsky cigar lover. As I have said before on these pages, anything that the Democrats legislate that begins with the word "Affordable", is doomed. The Affordable Housing Act started the collapse, by forcing banks to make illogical loans. See below...
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hxMInSfanqg

Young Fred
21146
Points
Young Fred 04/16/14 - 03:46 pm
4
0
Why only the near maximum?

Why only the near maximum?

dichotomy
37651
Points
dichotomy 04/16/14 - 03:53 pm
15
3
Barney Frank and the

Barney Frank and the Democrats, using the The Affordable Housing Act as a sledge hammer, put the banks and mortgage lenders in an untenable position. The banks got "creative" in order try and clear the bad loans from their books that were forced on them by the government policy and threats from Barney and the Democrats. Were the banks hands dirty....yes....but so were the government's hands and the GOVERNMENT put the whole train in motion. When the government tinkers with one end of a process, only bad things will come out the other end. If you don't believe me just wait until you see what they've done to health care.

itsanotherday1
48420
Points
itsanotherday1 04/16/14 - 04:47 pm
7
2
In fairness to OJP, the

In fairness to OJP, the collapse was bigger than just the housing bubble. Wall streeters operating in derivatives and other semi-bogus/toxic paper were culpable too.

http://www.nationalreview.com/articles/259102/why-wall-street-collapsed-...

jimbob
105
Points
jimbob 04/16/14 - 05:46 pm
6
1
OJP and others that take up for greedy dishonest people

The good citizens in this country should insist that all marijuana dealers be released from jail with their written commitment to not sell anymore ( I know some will anyway), and replace them with all of these dishonest greedy lowlifes in Congress and other government agencies, as well as the people like Preetorius who took others money just so they could have a better life, regardless the pain it caused to so many others.

rmwhitley
5547
Points
rmwhitley 04/16/14 - 06:23 pm
0
0
preetorius
Unpublished

and frank deserve each other. Add harry reid. he's as corrupt as they come.

The Mick
832
Points
The Mick 04/16/14 - 08:49 pm
1
0
Well, bye!

Well, bye!

jbartley
619
Points
jbartley 04/16/14 - 09:08 pm
8
0
Good

Judge Hall thank you for putting a white collar criminal behind bars for a long time!

itsanotherday1
48420
Points
itsanotherday1 04/16/14 - 09:40 pm
2
0
Well, bye!

A fellow Tombstone fan, eh? :)

rebellious
22053
Points
rebellious 04/16/14 - 11:43 pm
2
1
So

is she the sister of the handicapped Olympic athlete who murdered his wife? Same heart, different modus operandi.

InChristLove
22485
Points
InChristLove 04/17/14 - 04:23 am
6
1
Seriously AC....one poster

Seriously AC....one poster calls her a heifer, another calls her a sodding cow.

Where's specsta and his constant ranting about housing "non-violent" offenders? Ms. Preetorius isn't violent, she's just a thief.

Off sarcasm soapbox now............................

carcraft
28604
Points
carcraft 04/17/14 - 04:53 am
10
1
Don't Forget Jimmy Carter's

Don't Forget Jimmy Carter's Community Reinvestment Act along with affordable housing Act!

nocnoc
49715
Points
nocnoc 04/17/14 - 07:12 am
3
1
I guess the Fed's got a Poster Child conviction.

But what about the Lawyers, Bank's and Home Mortgage Loan Officers that knew and helped milked the people and the system?

BTW:
After the others plea, are convicted, buy the their way out or work out a deal for a Misdemeanor, so they can keep their law practices.

Her sentence will be appealed, and after the headlines die down.
She appeal the sentencing, win her request for a sentencing appeal, likely get timed served, plus 10 probation and be forgotten.

But will anyone, including Lawyers have to cough up any $$$$$.
An if so how much will be returned to the victims?

aw8ngjustice
22
Points
aw8ngjustice 04/17/14 - 07:18 am
11
0
2 local lawyers

Who were the lawyers? Why didn't they get charged with anything?

nocnoc
49715
Points
nocnoc 04/17/14 - 07:31 am
6
1
BTW:

With her serving 24 years.

Doesn't that mean restitution of $1,457,375. to the victims is going have to wait ?

Marinerman1
5499
Points
Marinerman1 04/17/14 - 07:43 am
5
1
@NocNoc - You Beat Me Again

While I understand that what she did was wrong, by the time she gets out (this is a Federal charge), she will be too old to get a high paying enough job, so that she can pay SOME restitution to her victims...

edcushman
7930
Points
edcushman 04/17/14 - 07:47 am
8
1
"He also didn't know the
Unpublished

"He also didn't know the young male prostitute he lived with was running a prostitution ring out of his house."
riverman, ole Barney did not know the male prostitute was growing marijuana in his back yard because ole Barney 'is not an outdoors man'.

edcushman
7930
Points
edcushman 04/17/14 - 07:51 am
10
1
The Affordable Housing Act
Unpublished

The Affordable Housing Act did for housing what the Affordable HealthCare Act is doing to Health. When will the idiots voting for the democrats ever learn.

notsurprised
88
Points
notsurprised 04/17/14 - 08:13 am
5
0
Sue Reimer

Should face some consequences as well. As her "real estate atty" she knew everything wasn't quite on the up and up.

cintavon6
14
Points
cintavon6 04/17/14 - 08:53 am
12
0
Bunch of Crooks

This was a very trying time for my husband and I. We lost our home, 10,000 dollars, and had to move out of one of her rent-to-own homes within a four month time period of moving in. I see we were not the only ones and it is very sad that anyone could be so manipulative and uncaring all for Money! Her sentencing wasn't harsh enough, and her mother and the other two, a young man and a girl should all be in the cell beside her. As well as her attorneys. Some people will never recover from this devastation, I have no pity for any of them, I just want my 10,000 dollars back!

Riverman1
94333
Points
Riverman1 04/17/14 - 09:18 am
7
1
Cintavon, I'm sorry for your

Cintavon, I'm sorry for your loss. She was definitely out of control and would never stop with the scams. I'll be interested in what happens to Reimer.

TrulyWorried
16709
Points
TrulyWorried 04/17/14 - 09:57 am
5
0
Sentencing

Thank you - Judge Hall - for doing things right!

itsanotherday1
48420
Points
itsanotherday1 04/17/14 - 11:37 am
5
1
Heifer

Apparently you city folk don't understand country. That term was used as a description of a mean female. If this lady wasn't mean, I don't know what you would call it.

The Mick
832
Points
The Mick 04/17/14 - 02:20 pm
1
1
Itsanotherday

Indeed

jimmymac
48076
Points
jimmymac 04/17/14 - 05:10 pm
0
0
SENTENCE
Unpublished

She got what she deserved but what about the others involved?

TrulyWorried
16709
Points
TrulyWorried 04/17/14 - 05:25 pm
2
0
Sentenced to prison

and grinning from ear to ear - AC - have a more appropriate picture.?

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