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Pennsylvania Man Admits to Role in $18 Million Ponzi Scheme

A Pennsylvania man admitted to his role in a $17.6 million Ponzi scheme that defrauded more than 260 investors.

Robert Stinson Jr., 56, of Berwyn, pleaded guilty in federal court in Philadelphia today to 26 charges, including wire fraud, mail fraud, money laundering and bank fraud, the Justice Department said in a statement. There was no plea agreement, according to the plea memorandum.

Stinson was charged in November, accused of lying about his education and promising returns of 10 percent to 16 percent from real estate hedge funds. He allegedly told investors that the funds made short-term commercial mortgage loans, while he used the money to pay himself and relatives and to buy expensive cars and vacations, according to an indictment.

He falsely claimed to have degrees from the Massachusetts Institute of Technology and Pennsylvania State University and concocted a long history of employment in currency trading and investment management, prosecutors said. In reality, he had been convicted of fraud multiple times, they said.

The charges carry a maximum penalty of 329 years in prison and a $6.8 million fine. His sentencing is scheduled for Dec. 13 before U.S. District Judge Michael M. Baylson in Philadelphia. Non-binding federal guidelines call for a term of 324 to 405 months in prison, prosecutors said.

The case is U.S. vs. Stinson, 10-cr-00724; a related lawsuit is Securities and Exchange Commission v. Stinson, 2:10-cv-3130, both in U.S. District Court, Eastern District of Pennsylvania (Philadelphia).

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