Five years ago, Eric Green had the attention of celebrities, TV cameras and reporters.
The 55-year-old was hailed for helping hundreds of children in low-income areas of Pinellas County through his charity, Everyone's Youth United.
Government funding for the nonprofit was cut in 2008, but Green vowed to continue.
His arrest this week — on charges of grand theft and money laundering — likely will put an end to any lingering hope.
According to court documents, Green was part of a phony real estate deal in 2010, netting himself and others $143,500. Green pulled off the scheme with an as yet unidentified St. Petersburg pastor, according to the Pinellas County Sheriff's Office.
Detectives from the economic crimes unit began investigating after a real estate title agent named Cheryl Slaughter got suspicious and complained.
That was in April 2011. A year later, the Sheriff's Office forwarded the case to prosecutors, who did more research. A warrant for Green, who lists a home address in Tampa, wasn't issued until April this year.
He was booked into the Pinellas County Jail on Monday.
Slaughter could not be reached for comment. Neither could the woman whose home was at the center of the deal, Dorothea Giordano, who lived at 2942 Glenpark Road in Palm Harbor.
After Giordano could no longer afford her payments, officials said, a friend who is now deceased offered to buy her home in a short sale and let her stay.
The pastor helped arrange the deal, records show, recruiting another woman, who communicated with Slaughter's company. That woman, identified in court records as Tamkea Womack, claimed to represent Allied Home Mortgage, which held the mortgage on Giordano's home. Womack directed Slaughter to disburse funds from the sale to EYU, Inc — which actually was Green's charity.
Several months later, Slaughter found out Allied knew nothing about the transaction.
By then, detectives said, Green had spent the money.
He remained in jail Thursday in lieu of $200,000 bail.
Times researcher Caryn Baird contributed to this report.