2 Plead Guilty in $52 Million Ponzi Scheme

ST. LOUIS (AP) — A Kansas attorney and a real estate speculator from the United Kingdom have pleaded guilty to defrauding investors of $52 million in what authorities call one of the largest-ever Ponzi schemes in Missouri.

James Scott Brown of Leawood, Kan., and Derek Smith of Oxfordshire, England, pleaded guilty to fraud charges Friday in U.S. District Court in St. Louis. Sentencing has not been set, but federal prosecutors say both men agreed to forfeit property and money in an effort to pay back defrauded investors.

They were indicted in April and originally pleaded not guilty before changing the pleas on Friday. The alleged leader of the scheme, Martin Sigillito of Webster Groves, is scheduled for trial in March.

Attorneys for Brown and Smith did not return messages seeking comment.

Copyright 2011 The Associated Press

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