Self-proclaimed 'pastor' indicted in real estate investment scam

May 23, 2013 8:59:59 AM PDT
A 52-year-old Houston man who portrayed himself as a pastor running a religious-themed investment program is charged with 24 counts of fraud for what federal prosecutors say was a real estate scheme that cost a Mississippi woman $650,000.

U.S. Attorney Kenneth Magidson says Samuel Ray Palasota has surrendered to authorities and was to appear before a federal magistrate in Houston.

An indictment unsealed Thursday describes Palasota as manager of a firm called "The Maker's Resources" where in 2009 he made false promises and representations about reselling foreclosed homes around Houston. Prosecutors say he duped the unidentified Mississippi woman to invest with him proceeds from a $1 million divorce settlement but spent the money on himself.

In furtherance of the scheme, the indictment alleges Palasota did make payments to the woman which he termed "returns on investment." These payments, however, were not the proceeds of an investment but were simply the return of a portion of her own money, made in an effort to appear as though the so-called investment was generating income.

If convicted, he could get up to 20 years in prison on each count.

Information from the Associated Press was used in this report.

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