Couple says holdings are protected

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An Evans woman accused of costing many people their life savings, homes or both with her real estate dealings blamed the downturn in the real estate market and banks for the financial troubles, including her own bankruptcy.

And the attorney for Regina and Charles "Greg" Preetorius contends that any assets and property held in her corporations' names are protected from creditors.

The couple appeared Wednesday in U.S. Bankruptcy Court for the first time since filing their Chapter 7 petition Aug. 4. They amended their petition this week to list a total of nearly $2.64 million in debts and $626,125 in assets.

The amended petition also lists potential income from legal claims against people who invested money with Ms. Preetorius, bought or rented homes from her company, or turned over their houses for Ms. Preetorius to sell. Legal claims may also be filed by the couple against attorneys who represent some of those people, and against The Augusta Chronicle, which they accuse of slander.

The newspaper investigated Ms. Preetorius and her businesses through transactions involving properties with a current market value of more than $10.6 million. Lawsuits and people interviewed by The Chronicle in an Aug. 17 story accused Ms. Preetorius of fraud.

About a dozen of the people who invested nearly $3.7 million with Ms. Preetorius' businesses, mainly S.D.A. & Associates, got the chance to ask the Preetoriuses questions at Wednesday's meeting.

What, asked the Columbia County Delinquent Tax officer, Lynn Farmer, is the Columbia County Center of Hope for the Blind Trust? It once held title to the Preetoriuses ' Windmill Plantation personal home , Ms. Farmer said. She was trying to figure out who owned more than a dozen properties in Columbia County that at one time were titled to S.D.A. or another of Ms. Preetorius' businesses or trusts . All of the businesses and trusts had the same address.

She wanted to know if those properties were included in the Preetorius bankruptcy.

If the properties aren't in Ms. Preetorius' personal name, they are not included in the bankruptcy, their attorney Todd Boudreaux said. That includes property titled to S.D.A., such as the Windmill home where Ms. Preetorius' mother lives and a Jones Creek house with a fair market value of $465,483.

That confused Dennis Malone, who asked to see a list of all the entities with the same post office box address that Ms. Preetorius uses. "I want to find out where all these things are. ... I want to find the interconnections," he said.

There are a number of people searching for those answers, bankruptcy trustee A. Stephenson Wallace said, but there wasn't enough time Wednesday. The meeting will continue Oct. 14.

Sylvia Caramerus, who invested $200,000 with Ms. Preetorius, said she understood how the real estate market sank but wanted to know why Ms. Preetorius didn't tell her that she stopped making mortgage payments and caused property she invested in to go into foreclosure. If she had known last fall - when Ms. Preetorius said

her finances crashed - she might have been able to recover some of her investment, Ms. Caramerus said.

"Honestly, Sylvia, I thought I could turn it around," Ms. Preetorius said.

Ms. Preetorius said her financial troubles began when a buyer on a million-dollar home backed out of the deal, the real estate market sank, banks started refusing to deal with her attempts to pay off first mortgages on homes, and renters stopped making payments owed to her companies.

Attorney Joe Ingram, who represents one family, asked Ms. Preetorius what happened in the cases of people who continued to make payments on their lease-to-purchase agreements.

His clients paid $15,000 down and almost $1,000 a month for nearly two years. The family was evicted when Ms. Preetorius stopped paying the first mortgage lender.

Ms. Preetorius said she made the first mortgage payments until October, when the adjustable rate payments increased. After October she used the money Mr. Ingram's clients paid her to pay her company expenses. That, she said, did not include any salary for herself.

Another attorney representing an investor asked Ms. Preetorius what happened to a DeKalb County property.

"I'm trying to remember," she said, then added that she was sure it was foreclosed on.

Reach Sandy Hodson at (706) 823-3226 or sandy.hodson@augustachronicle.com.

THE BACK STORY


REAL ESTATE TRANSACTIONS


Regina Preetorius ran various businesses, including S.D.A. & Associates, with the stated purpose of assisting financially troubled homeowners to stay out of foreclosure or sell their homes.


According to lawsuits and people who talked with The Augusta Chronicle for an Aug. 17 article, she is accused of treating properties as her own and obtaining second and third loans on the houses that were provided by private investors.


In S.D.A.'s wake are more than 40 foreclosures on properties with a total fair market value of nearly $10.6 million.


The next meeting with Regina and Charles "Greg" Preetorius and their creditors will be Oct. 14 at noon. At least two attorneys will ask questions about the Preetoriuses' finances.


The bankruptcy trustee, A. Stephenson Wallace, will make a recommendation to the bankruptcy court judge on the acceptance or rejection of the petition, which seeks to erase all unsecured debts. The $2.04 million in unsecured debts does not include any amount of money for the home sellers or buyers of 56 different properties.

Comments (19) Add comment
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patriciathomas
42
Points
patriciathomas 09/11/08 - 04:13 am
0
0
People bought houses from

People bought houses from Preetorius when someone else held a first mortgage? How do you get tricked into that deal?

Reality
3
Points
Reality 09/11/08 - 04:20 am
0
0
Not reading or being able to

Not reading or being able to comprehend the contracts. I would hate to see these people keep their properties, if they cheated anyone out of money.

Cody_Webster
0
Points
Cody_Webster 09/11/08 - 05:30 am
0
0
Plainly states in original

Plainly states in original loans from banks, "bond for title" is not allowed. A honest lawyer doing a closing would know this and warn his client of such. Stupid is, as stupid does, this lady is very well aware of her deceptive practice. A money greedy roach preying on the less intelligent of the world.

mercyme
0
Points
mercyme 09/11/08 - 06:37 am
0
0
There are so many of these

There are so many of these deceptive people out there it is no wonder our world is in the shape it is!!!!!!!

karmakills123
8
Points
karmakills123 09/11/08 - 07:08 am
0
0
No matter how their scummy

No matter how their scummy lawyer tries to spin this ..these
bottom feeders are crooks.

double_standard
166
Points
double_standard 09/11/08 - 07:27 am
0
0
You can call her what you

You can call her what you want but you can't her broke.

pofwe
5
Points
pofwe 09/11/08 - 07:47 am
0
0
Say that again ... please,

Say that again ... please, double_standard.

Bommer
0
Points
Bommer 09/11/08 - 07:49 am
0
0
The name of this game is

The name of this game is Greed!!!!!!!!!!!!!
It is beyond me why these real estate agents and mortgage
brokes sell and lend people money on house they know they can't afford to start with. That is why the Morgage industry is in shambles today. Did I say Greed

fd1962
26
Points
fd1962 09/11/08 - 07:50 am
0
0
"Bond for Title" is a
Unpublished

"Bond for Title" is a legitimate mechanism for purchasing a home, and shouldn't be flamed here. It functions like an installment sales contract, where the title to the property is delivered AFTER the final payment is made - not upon closing, as occurs in a conventional mortgage transaction. It has become an alternative financing mechanism compared to mortgages, but at one time was historically more common in this country - before mortgages were invented and pushed by the self-interests of the mortgage, banking, and insurance industries.

426Hemi
0
Points
426Hemi 09/11/08 - 07:53 am
0
0
Since when is the truth

Since when is the truth considered slander? Roast 'em over a fire, as they deserve.

426Hemi
0
Points
426Hemi 09/11/08 - 07:56 am
0
0
BTW, you can put lipstick on

BTW, you can put lipstick on a slug; but it's still a slug! NOTOREEOUS PREETORIUS. Slug.

soldout
1283
Points
soldout 09/11/08 - 08:58 am
0
0
We could avoid ALL of this if

We could avoid ALL of this if every young person after college or high school attended a Dave Ramsey financial peace course. It is the best wedding or graduation gift you can give and they will never be taken advantage of during their life.

Complex situations always have simple answers.

AugustaGA1
0
Points
AugustaGA1 09/11/08 - 09:10 am
0
0
To fd1962: the "bond for

To fd1962: the "bond for title" used in these transactions is not legitimate whatsoever, as it is made in connection with a preexisting mortgage on the subject property. The subsequent execution of the title bond is a way of transferring title by circumventing the due on sale clause on the original loan. Don't you think it's a little unethical to intentionally violate or assist in the violation of a due on sale clause when you know what the status of the title is? The buyers of these properties thought they were entering into installment-purchase agreements, but had no idea that the properties had preexisting mortgages that were subject to being called due. This is a case of fraud, the property buyers need to get some sort of reimbursement, and someone needs to serve time.

csralookout
332
Points
csralookout 09/11/08 - 10:42 am
0
0
Who was the lawyer closing

Who was the lawyer closing these deals?

mssunshine
0
Points
mssunshine 09/11/08 - 10:57 am
0
0
Looks as though the Augusta

Looks as though the Augusta Chronicle doesn't even live up to its' code of ethics!
Here is what they post under their comment policy:
contains vulgar, profane, abusive, racist or hateful language or expressions, epithets or slurs, text, photographs or illustrations in poor taste, or attacks of a personal, racial or religious nature.
is defamatory, threatening, disparaging, grossly inflammatory, false, misleading, fraudulent, inaccurate, unfair, contains gross exaggeration or unsubstantiated claims, violates the privacy rights of any third party, is unreasonably harmful or offensive to any individual, community, association, group or business.

WATCH them remove my comment now!

karmakills123
8
Points
karmakills123 09/11/08 - 11:54 am
0
0
and just what is your point

and just what is your point mssunshine?

corgimom
38482
Points
corgimom 09/11/08 - 06:27 pm
0
0
PT, when you have a closing,

PT, when you have a closing, and it says on your closing statement that a payment was made to pay off the mortgage, you are supposed to receive the cancelled mortgage documents after the payment has been made and rhe release recorded at the courthouse, as proof of payment. These people didn't realize that. I'm sure that if a buyer caught it, she'd blame it on a mistake and then go pay it off. She depended on the buyers not knowing the legal procedures. That woman knew exactly what she was doing and I'm sure there's a bank account in the Cayman Islands that has her name on it.

Chuchi
2
Points
Chuchi 09/11/08 - 07:58 pm
0
0
Lon, I just read your post

Lon, I just read your post and you are SO right! At the library I happened to pick up one of Mary Hunt's books and a friend directed me to Dave Ramsey too. Mary Hunt has the same ideas as Dave Ramsey but some of her strategies are a bit less aggressive. Very few of us know how to handle our money even as adults and nobody teaches kids this stuff. I think they both have info and books for young people, even pre-high school kids. Smart money management and the right attitude toward finances can often help people stay away from the get-rich-quick investments and the, um, characters who operate them.

gangasRao
0
Points
gangasRao 09/11/08 - 08:45 pm
0
0
We have loaned more than

We have loaned more than 100k. Whenever she sells a particular house and transfer the money to other property, she is supposed to tell us; but she did not. I do not even know what are the collotoral to my loan. She failed miserably. She must be held responsible for all her actions. Bankruptcy is an easy answer for her. But not for us.

kai@reasontostand.org
1
Points
kai@reasontostand.org 09/14/08 - 09:22 pm
0
0
I have a hard time feeling

I have a hard time feeling sorry for the "less intelligent" when it is their responsibility to make sure they are not signing up for a bad deal. Predator or no, the people who bought into these bad deals MUST share some of the blame for not doing their homework.

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