SCRANTON -- A former real estate agent from Hazleton has pleaded guilty in federal court to scamming people into buying homes he didn't have the authority to sell, leaving many people with nothing.
People who say they were duped out of their dream homes by Ignacio Beato were in court Friday and there was an audible sigh from them in the courtroom as he pleaded guilty.
More than a year after Beato was locked up in Luzerne County, he pleaded guilty to conspiracy in federal court on Friday.
Felix Cabrera says he was just one of several people duped out of their dream homes by the former real estate agent.
"It made me feel good, like in a way I want to fly, but at the same time, I feel sorry for him. Basically, he did it to the wrong family," said Cabrera.
Prosecutors says Beato sold homes in the Hazleton area that he did not have the authority to sell.
Some buyers wound end up getting evicted and Felix Cabrera is one of them.
"At the beginning, I was angry, but as the time goes by, I've recuperated myself, meaning health, emotional."
Officials estimate Beato defrauded people out of $750,000.
Cabrera says he really respected and trusted Beato because he had a good reputation and they are both from the Dominican Republic.
"He's like one of a kind. I'm Dominican, he's Dominican and he did this to his own people."
Cabrera says he doesn't even want to think about what would've happened if he didn't come forward and tell his story to the authorities and the media.
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"If I didn't come up to you guys, the news, the first thing I did, he might still be on the loose," added Cabrera.
It's a story that's even caught the attention of Spanish-language news crews from New York City. Reporters there say cases like these happen all too often.
"If it sounds too good to be true, it is, and unfortunately, Ignacio Beato was a well-respected man in the community; our people trusted him," said Yisel Tejeda of Univision.
"He never thought he was going to get caught, and now he has to pay for the consequence," said Cabrera.
Authorities brought Beato back to Pennsylvania to face charges. He was on the run but was caught in Florida last year.
Beato is scheduled to be sentenced in August. He faces up to ten years in prison and a $250,000 fine.