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Realtor sentenced to 4+ years for massive scam

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SCRANTON (WOLF) -- A former Hazleton realtor and city council candidate was sentenced Thursday for scamming dozens of people.

He took money from people for homes that weren't really for sale.

Victims left court after hearing the sentence of four years and three months for Ignacio Beato, 47.

"What he did to me, he shouldn't have been doing it, and now he paying the consequences," says fraud victim Felix Cabrera.

Beato stole more than $750,000 from residents. The judge said prosecutors identified 33 potential victims, and many have moved to unknown addresses.

Cabrera described how he couldn't get the home he wanted on Alter Street in Hazleton, or at least, that's what he was told.

"I was buying a different house and he said we have a plan A and plan B," says Cabrera. "Plan B is the good news that I have a home that I own it, and this one, you don't have to pay to the bank. You pay me straight, straight to me."

Cabrera says he paid out $32,000, plus invested in renovations.

"Every other week, every month, we gave him payments, even cash," says Cabrera. "The last payment that I did, we did in checks, and we did under his wife's name."

"All the money that I gave and everything, I still haven't received a dime," says Cabrera.

Amarilis Muñoz says through a translator that she and her partner lost more than $60,000.

"I think that it was very little time," says Muñoz about the jail sentence. She wonders where the money is. Cabrera is more forgiving about jail time.

"Yes, a couple of months or a year," says Cabrera. "Now, my mind's in peace. Basically, he's a man of the family, and I'm a man of the family also."

"Two years ago: Get out," says Muñoz. "It's been two years since we left the house and they sold the house. It has another owner. ...The sentence is OK."

Beato gave a brief statement in court, saying he's very sorry for his actions, he regrets them, and he's looking to "change his life and do better."

"To me, he basically he didn't wanted to do it, but he started doing it and he did something when you get the habit, yes, you got to continue doing it," says Cabrera.

Cabrera says he moved to Blakeslee where his new home is paid off.

Beato was ordered to pay $65,000 in restitution, and the IRS has already seized $35,000 that will be directed to victims.

Some victims have also filed civil suits, which prosecutors say played into a lower restitution amount being ordered. Also, some victims could not be located.

Beato had pleaded guilty earlier this year.

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