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Colo. man admits Ponzi scheme

DENVER, Dec. 4 (UPI) -- A Colorado man has admitted carrying out a Ponzi scheme that investigators say cost victims more than $20 million over 15 years.

Shawn Merriman, 46, of Aurora pleaded guilty Wednesday in federal court in Denver, The Denver Post reported. He disputed the amount, $21 million, he allegedly stole but admitted taking money from investors between 1994 and last February, promising them returns of between 7 percent and 25 percent.

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Prosecutors said Merriman made some investments with the money but used most of it to pay dividends and to buy antique cars, sports memorabilia and Rembrandt and Picasso prints.

Merriman used his connections in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints to find victims, investigators said. He also bilked his own family and friends.

"Some investors lost everything," David Gaouette, U.S. attorney in Colorado, said in a statement. "Hopefully, there will be an opportunity for the victims to receive some compensation for their losses."

Sentencing is scheduled for May.

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