A real estate crook in priest's clothing

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Father Barney the real estate crook We've come to this: An ordained Orthodox-Catholic priest in Indiana has pleaded guilty to federal charges of defrauding real estate developers and even churches of almost $3 million, according to the Courier-Journal of Louisville, Ky. "Father Barney", aka Byron Canada, apparently ran two South Bend corporations which he used to defraud borrowers over a five year period beginning back in 2004.

The "good" priest reportedly collected fees from real estate developers, businesses and, yes, churches for what was supposed to be advanced payments for loans his companies would later make, but never did. Just to gain that extra ounce of trust, "Father Barney" would make sure he was decked out in his clerical clothing when meeting his soon-to-be victims.

Not clear, by the way, is whether he is currently attached to any church, though he apparently was as recently as last year, according to the metropolitan archbishop of the Orthodox-Catholic Church of America as quoted by the South Bend Tribune. And, the U.S. attorney's office in South Bend says Canada is an ordained priest.

Canada is said to be talking to investigators because he apparently had accomplices that the feds would love to nail. He is free on bond.

The 62-year-old Canada certainly didn't think small. The so-called "advance fee scheme" involved him collecting fees ranging from $5,000 all the way to $225,000. He ended up pleading to wire fraud, money laundering and criminal conspiracy.

Charles Feldman is a journalist, media consultant and co-author of the book, "No Time To Think-The Menace of Media Speed and the 24-hour News Cycle." He has written about real estate related issues for several years.

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