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Judge OKs Plea Deal In $50M Ponzi Scheme

DETROIT (WWJ/AP) - A judge has accepted a new plea deal from a Detroit-area financial manager who helped the government prosecute his partner in a real estate scheme that ended with nearly $50 million in losses.

Richard Trabulsy's first plea agreement was thrown out last fall after a dispute over the length of his sentence. A court filing shows Trabulsy now likely faces a bit more than four years in prison after pleading guilty to fraud Tuesday in Detroit federal court.

Trabulsy worked with John Bravata at BBC Equities. Prosecutors say they misled people about the safety of their money and especially preyed on those 55 and older who had lump sums to invest. More than 400 investors had been promised steady interest payments.

Bravata is serving a 20-year prison sentence after being convicted last year of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and 15 counts of wire fraud. His son, Antonio, was also convicted of conspiracy to commit mail and wire fraud and was sentenced to 5-years in prison.

In executing their scheme, the Bravatas solicited money for their company BBC Equities by using false and fraudulent statements and promises, according to court documents. The false statements included promises of guaranteed safety of principal and high interest returns. Rather than investing the money in safe real estate transactions as promised, prosecutors said a large portion of the money was used by the Bravatas to support their lavish lifestyles.

Federal prosecutors want the Bravatas to pay $44.5 million in restitution in the case.

TM and © Copyright 2014 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2014 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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