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Monday, December 13, 2010

Another One Bites the Dust, Part 2

So, my first blog posting a few weeks ago was regarding a case where a few Realtors, a builder, and some other people were convicted of fraud involving the purchase of real estate. Here is the follow- up story from the Columbus Dispatch on December 09, 2010. As I said before, I don't take satisfaction when others get punished but I am glad that justice was served here, for the benefit of the public at large and for the real estate community.

Realty agent gets 18 months in fraud case

Thursday, December 9, 2010 02:55 AM


A real-estate agent for convicted builder Thomas Parenteau was sent to prison yesterday for helping Parenteau set up fraudulent real-estate deals in Franklin County and lying about it.
U.S. District Judge Michael Watson sentenced Bonnie Helt to 18 months for conspiring to commit bank fraud, then the same amount of time for conspiring to obstruct justice and tamper with witnesses. Watson ordered, however, that the sentences run concurrently.
Helt was indicted in June 2009 along with Parenteau and his accountant, Dennis G. Sartain, for a tax-evasion scheme and a plot to defraud lending institutions of millions of dollars.
Helt, 61, pleaded guilty in January to the bank fraud and obstruction charges.
As part of a plea agreement, she agreed to forfeit $124,544, the amount she earned in commission on the fraudulent deals.
Prosecutors had recommended a sentence of two years and nine months.
"She was one of the last of his (Parenteau's) co-conspirators to take responsibility for her actions and to offer to cooperate," the government's sentencing memorandum states. Greed led her into the conspiracy, it says.
"As the licensed real-estate professional in the transaction, she should have been the one to say 'no' to this conduct," it says.
William A. Settina, Helt's attorney, requested a sentence of nine to 13 months. He argued in court that his client was naive and unsophisticated, and didn't really understand until it was too late that what she was doing was wrong.
"Ms. Helt clearly was Mr. Parenteau's dupe, easily manipulated and too unsure of herself to object or question methods and motives," he said.
Settina said Parenteau used Helt's belief that she had spiritual powers and could talk to the dead to control her behavior.
Settina said Helt lost her home and her license to practice real estate, and has filed for bankruptcy.
Parenteau's sentencing date has not been set.
Sartain was sentenced to 11 years in prison. Co-defendant Todd M. Gongwer, also a real-estate agent, was given two years in prison.

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