A 52-year-old Texas man who falsely claimed to be a Delta Force veteran has been found guilty of defrauding victims of $20 million through a series of fraud schemes.

On Tuesday, a federal jury convicted Saint Jovite Youngblood, 52, also known as Kota Youngblood, on four counts of wire fraud and one count of money laundering, according to a prosecutor’s release.

In one such scheme, Youngblood told a victim that a Mexican drug cartel planned to kill the man and his son and he could offer protection for a fee.

He faces up to 20 years on each wire fraud count and 10 years for the money laundering count at his sentencing, which has not yet been scheduled.

From April 2021 to July 2023, Youngblood and others not named in court documents concocted a scheme by telling victims that Mexican drug cartels were targeting them, according to court documents.

Some of Youngblood’s victims were fellow parents of children in a local youth ice hockey league in suburban Austin, Texas.

Early on, Youngblood would pay for dinners on sports road trips and give parents gifts. He told fake stories of having served in the 82nd Airborne Division and Delta Force and claimed he now worked as an undercover federal agent.

However, he was a former used car salesman who’d never served in the military.

As part of one scheme, Youngblood showed a victim fake documents, which indicated the victim was being targeted and told them if they paid Youngblood he would provide protection. He also promised he would return the money with additional funds by selling gold bars he had access to.

In another scheme he borrowed $200,000 from fellow hockey league parents to secure family heirlooms and resolve an alleged blackmail case with his ex-wife, the New York Post reported.

Youngblood offered to let victims hold supposedly valuable items as collateral for their payments such as baseball bats used by Babe Ruth and Lou Gehrig, antique clocks and a Confederate-era flag, which later proved to be fake.

He claimed to be involved in investment opportunities in items such as gold bars, coins, antique clocks, sports memorabilia and other items that could “generate significant returns on funds provided to him.”

Initially, Youngblood provided some return on the money victims provided to lull them into a false belief that their “investment” was secure.

But there were no cartels targeting individuals and Youngblood used most of the money to take gambling trips to Las Vegas, Nevada.

Authorities said during the trial that Youngblood bilked more than 20 victims nationwide out of nearly $20 million in the scheme, local ABC TV affiliate KVUE reported.

Austin-area real estate developer Eric Perardi told KVUE he paid Youngblood nearly $900,000 because he believed his family would be killed by cartel members.

In an interview with the Austin American-Statesman newspaper, Perardi said Youngblood told him that a cartel had ordered a hit on Perardi and his son. He first asked him for $70,000 to hire people to protect them and said he’d give the money back to Perardi in a couple of weeks.

But the calls continued day and night, putting Perardi in a state of bewilderment and confusion. He ultimately sold his home and lost his business as a result.

Perardi later learned Youngblood’s claims were fake and reported him to the FBI. He wore a wire to record Youngblood’s deceits during a lunch meeting.

“Justice was served,” Perardi told local media outlets after the trial. “The FBI and the U.S. attorney believed us, put together a case really quickly, and though none of us can ever get our lives back, knowing that he can’t do this to other victims is a huge weight lifted.”

Todd South has written about crime, courts, government and the military for multiple publications since 2004 and was named a 2014 Pulitzer finalist for a co-written project on witness intimidation. Todd is a Marine veteran of the Iraq War.

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