A Franklin County man behind an elaborate rental scam has been sentenced to 11 years behind bars.
Minerva Park Police say Ronald Jester preyed on the poor and vulnerable in a rental scam that left several families homeless.
He promised his victims a better life, instead Franklin County Prosecutors say he took them for everything they had.
For Walter Brempong, it was a chance at a better life, a ticket out of his Northland apartment complex, into a home in the quiet Minerva Park community. "I mean, everyone would like to live in that house. It has everything," said Brempong.
He said he met with Ronald Jester, who showed him the house, and produced rental applications and lease agreements. "He opened it up, we saw everything was fine," Brempong said. "And that's where the deal started from. So we have to pay some advance, we pay part of it, and then he came for the full amount."
He said Jester insisted he pay in cash - $995 dollars - but provided him with receipts.
The problem was, all of those documents were fake. And he'd promised the very same home to at least 16 others.
Minerva Park Police say he used a home on Wildwood Road to lure people in.
The house was for sale at the time, so neighbors never thought twice about seeing people constantly pass through.
Franklin County prosecutors say in total, he scammed more than $20,000 dollars from his victims, and left at least three families homeless.
The judge sentenced him to 11 years in prison, and ordered him to pay restitution to his victims.
"I take full responsibility and have great remorse for the pain that my victims have incurred due to me," Ronald Jester said during Thursday's sentencing.
Minerva Park Police Chief Kim Nuesse says his actions devastated some of his victims.
"He was praying on very poor people that gave him almost everything they had," Chief Nuesse said. "In two cases, families with children."
Walter Brempong is back to square one, still living in his apartment, but with faith restored. "I think justice has been served," Brempong said.
Ronald Jester skipped out on at least five previous hearings. A bench warrant was issued for his arrest, and he was taken into police custody where he's been held until Thursday's sentencing.