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Baptist pastor guilty in scam

A Baptist pastor faces up to five years in prison for his role in a real estate scheme that bilked $1.5 million from lenders and home buyers, including some members of his congregation.

The Rev. Paul J. Starnes, 40, pleaded guilty yesterday in U.S. District Court to wire fraud and money laundering charges.

The leader of the Morning Star Church in Springfield is scheduled to be sentenced on May 9. His lawyer, Peter Ettenberg, said he will ask that Starnes be placed on probation. But Assistant U.S. Attorney William Welch indicated he would push for Starnes to serve 51 to 63 months behind bars.

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