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Fraud involved in home deals, lawsuit claims

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Regina Preetorius blames the real estate market crash.

A class action lawsuit filed in federal bankruptcy court says something else caused people who did business with her company, S.D.A. & Associates, to lose their investments and face eviction papers -- fraud.

"Most people who have never bought a house, they rely upon the real estate agent, the loan broker and the lawyers," said attorney Jack Long, who filed the suit Thursday on behalf of husband and wife Juan Valencia and Decia Bostic-Valencia. "They had no concept that the paperwork they were getting was not part of a normal real estate transaction."

The Valencias got kicked out of a house in south Augusta last year despite putting nearly $16,000 down, paying $4,000 to "loan broker" Fred Climer and making 12 monthly payments of $976, the lawsuit says. They thought that they were working toward home ownership in a rent-to-own, bond-for-title deal, Mr. Long said.

Unbeknownst to them, the complaint alleges, S.D.A. took their money while letting an outstanding mortgage on the house go unpaid, leading to foreclosure.

The lawsuit names Mrs. Preetorius, her husband, Charles "Greg" Preetorius, and Mr. Climer as defendants and seeks to create a class of plaintiffs who fell into predicaments similar to the Valencias. The Preetoriuses have filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, listing nearly $2.64 million in debts, but the complaint says they can't dodge what they owe the Valencias because taking their money without paying the debt "constitutes an act of fraud."

Mr. Long said he also wants to create a class of defendants -- companies that made money off S.D.A. or are connected to it. The court could probe their books and hopefully recover money for the Valencias and others, he said.

Other lawsuits have been filed against Mrs. Preetorius accusing her of fraud and racketeering. An investigation by The Augusta Chronicle uncovered more than 40 foreclosures and numerous bankruptcies in S.D.A.'s wake.

The company's ads said it could "BUY, REPAIR, MARKET, and SELL HOMES" and make monthly mortgage payments "evaporate." But, according to the lawsuits and those who talked with The Chronicle , Mrs. Preetorius treated the properties as her own and obtained second and third mortgages on them.

The newspaper's investigation revealed that she was involved in the transfer of properties with a combined fair market value of more than $10.6 million. She also persuaded investors to give her nearly $3.7 million in exchange for security deeds.

The burst of the housing bubble was a major factor in the sinking of S.D.A., said Todd Boudreaux, the Preetoriuses' bankruptcy attorney. The company was successful for four years, helping hundreds of people buy and sell homes.

"The people who are having trouble now are, unfortunately, the people they were dealing with at the end, when everything crashed," Mr. Boudreaux said.

Reach Johnny Edwards at (706) 823-3225 or johnny.edwards@augustachronicle.com.

Comments (16) Add comment
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Craig Spinks
817
Points
Craig Spinks 11/04/08 - 03:57 am
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Quite possibly the smartest

Quite possibly the smartest thing the Valencias have ever done was hiring Jack. He will straighten out the malefactors.

Dixieman
13107
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Dixieman 11/04/08 - 07:25 am
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Jack Long is excellent!

Jack Long is excellent!

hey
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hey 11/04/08 - 08:40 am
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Don't buy a house from a

Don't buy a house from a company!! Pay cash or get a 15 year conventional loan from a BANK and buy it. It appears, in my opionion, that the people thought they were buying a house but instead were renting the house, and that certainly constitites fraud in my book. It seems to me the couple was a victim of fraud, and the owners of the company should pay them back and go to jail for a very LONG time. In my opinion, based on what is presented here, they are criminals in that the took other people's money and used it to build up their business and it all crashed on their head.

Ga Values
27
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Ga Values 11/04/08 - 08:56 am
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saxby economics at work..

saxby economics at work..

ripjones
2
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ripjones 11/04/08 - 09:53 am
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GaValues -- BS!! Leave Saxby

GaValues -- BS!! Leave Saxby out of this. The crooks running Fannie Mae and Freddie Mac were the crooks. Get your facts straight.
It appears that the Preetoriuses' are toast. From what I'm reading, they were redistributing the wealth -- right into their own pockets. Jail them for a very long time.

atwitsend
5
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atwitsend 11/04/08 - 10:10 am
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Can't wait to see the photo

Can't wait to see the photo of this trashy looking babe dressed in prison garb on her way to jail. Too bad she and the others in her gang of thieves left so much heartbreak in their wake. Let's hope justice prevails.

fd1962
26
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fd1962 11/04/08 - 10:20 am
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It's hard to generate any
Unpublished

It's hard to generate any sympathy for the Preetorius' situation, but the concept of bond-for-title shouldn't be condemned as a financing mechanism. Both parties to a bond-for-title transaction have clear responsibilities. You can't expect it to work successfully when either side is abusing the contract.

jack
10
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jack 11/04/08 - 12:11 pm
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Jack Long will get to the

Jack Long will get to the bottom of this.

kk19299
0
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kk19299 11/04/08 - 12:42 pm
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It doesn't mention Sue Reimer

It doesn't mention Sue Reimer or Reimer Law Firm, the closing attorneys involved in these deals. The closings all had to be handled by them and Regina was working in Sue's office on Belair Road. I hope this warrants a full investigation and all "guilty" parties go to jail not just a few. And why leave her mother, Marie Champayne out of the article?...she was getting paid. She was the vice-president of the company!

DoubleD
0
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DoubleD 11/04/08 - 12:51 pm
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Who buys a home from a woman

Who buys a home from a woman that looks like Dog The Bounty Hunter's wife?

peppernik
0
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peppernik 11/04/08 - 01:06 pm
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sounds like ripjones is the

sounds like ripjones is the uneducated one

atwitsend
5
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atwitsend 11/04/08 - 05:13 pm
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RIGHT ON, Double D. I KNEW

RIGHT ON, Double D. I KNEW she reminded me of someone, but couldn't quite connect the dots. Thanks for the spot-on comparison!

atwitsend
5
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atwitsend 11/04/08 - 05:14 pm
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Oh, and by the way, "Regina

Oh, and by the way, "Regina Preetorious" sounds like an alias to me!

kk19299
0
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kk19299 11/04/08 - 06:18 pm
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All I am saying is that there

All I am saying is that there are more people involved in fraud than these 3 and the mother was involved too. The Augusta Chronicle has already mentioned them. Once the FBI investigates, the closing attorneys should be investigated too and any other banking personnel that assisted with the paperwork. They made a profit on these deals and can afford to pay back to these poor souls who were taken advantaged of. I hope that Jack wins his case!

stampman79
4
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stampman79 11/04/08 - 06:57 pm
0
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No one should have any

No one should have any sympathy for these crooks. They need to do some jail time. Also, Greg Preetorius wasn't bothering to pay child support while living high on the hog while they were stealing from people.

stevie ray
0
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stevie ray 11/04/08 - 08:29 pm
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You can't mean that Fred

You can't mean that Fred "Bubba" Climer is a lowlife scheming dog?? Come on. Kidding. Bubba is slicker than a whale turd for sure, but he can't touch Regina.

giwi
101
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giwi 11/05/08 - 04:29 am
0
0
They need to go to

They need to go to JAIL!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

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