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Authorities searching for real estate broker

Nevada County man allegedly misused $20 million in investors’ money
By: Jenifer Gee Journal Staff Writer
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Authorities are searching for a Nevada County real estate broker who faces 73 criminal counts for allegedly “deceiving” his investors and borrowers, which include an Auburn man. Cliff Newell, Nevada County District Attorney, and Attorney General Edmund Brown Jr. filed charges last week against Thomas Hastert on numerous criminal counts for embezzlement, securities fraud, conspiracy and filing false documents that ultimately cost multiple victims more than $20 million. “This man brazenly deceived investors and borrowers, promising high returns and easy loans, ripping off his customers, for his own personal enrichment,” Brown said in a news release. “Ultimately, this criminal scheme collapsed when many of these loans failed, costing hundred of people more than $20 million.” Auburn resident William Diemer, Jr. is among those listed in the felony complaint as one of Hastert’s alleged victims. Diemer declined to comment Monday. Several other names on the complaint had Grass Valley addresses. Hastert allegedly brokered more than 270 hard-money loans in several counties including Placer between September 2004 and September 2007. The hard-money loans, used for real estate development projects, usually give private investors high returns and typically use real estate as collateral. Hastert is charged with misleading investors, setting up fake investors to quell concerns of legitimate investors and embezzling fees. Newell said his office, in conjunction with the attorney general and detectives from the Grass Valley Police Depart-ment, served a search warrant of Hastert’s office in September 2007. Because of the magnitude of the case, Newell said he called on the help of the state attorney general. He said deputy attorney general Keith Lyon will be the lead prosecutor on the case. Newell said it’s hard to pinpoint exactly how long Hastert has been allegedly misleading his clients. “When the real estate market is hot, you could keep this house of cards together,” Newell said Monday. “But when the real estate market started to fall off, that’s when lenders slowed down and in the process, he couldn’t keep up to satisfy the borrowers.” Newell said he would caution other investors and borrowers to be wary of any offer that sounds too good to be true. “If you’re a lender and somebody is offering to broker your money and give you extremely high returns in comparison to the rest of the market, please look at it with some skepticism,” Newell said. A Nevada County District Attorney’s Office investigator is following up on several leads, Newell said, in an attempt to arrest Hastert on the warrant issued last week. If convicted, Hastert could face up to 11 years and 4 months in prison. While bail is set at $540,000, Newell said a special motion has been approved that forces Hastert to prove in court that his bail money is from a legitimate source. The Journal’s Jenifer Gee can be reached at jeniferg@goldcountrymedia. com or post a comment at Auburnjournal.com. More online To read the 30-page complaint filed against Thomas Hastert, visit: http://www.goldcountry media.com/pdf/ complaint.pdf