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Plea agreement expected in fraud case

DENVER, Aug. 18 (UPI) -- A Colorado man who allegedly admitted a Ponzi scheme that defrauded investors of $20 million has agreed to plead guilty, The Denver Post reports.

The newspaper said it has obtained a letter from the U.S. attorney's office in Denver to Shawn Merriman's lawyer outlining the steps in a plea agreement. Assistant U.S. Attorney Thomas Rourke described the deal as "anticipated."

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Merriman, 46, allegedly acknowledged after federal investigators raided his Arapahoe County home in April that he took in money from relatives, friends and members of his Mormon church and a car club. Instead of investing the money he allegedly used most of it for a lifestyle that included safari trips and collections of fine art and antique cars, while some went to repay investors to keep the scam going, officials said.

"The main thing is that it's been a very difficult wait for all the investors who've been through this injustice," said Manoj Moorjani, a Minnesota businessman who said he invested $500,000. "The government moves very slowly, but we're relieved something is finally happening."

In the letter, Rourke said formal charges would be filed Wednesday and a plea hearing would be scheduled.

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