A Broward County man who is accused of feeding millions of dollars to Scott Rothstein's $1.4 billion Ponzi scheme pleaded not guilty to the charge during his initial appearance Thursday in federal court in Fort Lauderdale.

Frank Preve, 70, of Coral Springs, is facing a wire fraud conspiracy charge. Prosecutors said he fed more than $20 million from investors and lenders into the fraud – just in the four months before it collapsed.

"He pleads not guilty pending a change of plea," his lawyer Ray Rasco told U.S. Magistrate Judge Patrick Hunt, indicating that Preve is expected to plead guilty in the next few weeks.

Prosecutors told the judge that Preve, who faces up to five years in prison and a $250,000 fine, has known he has been under investigation for at least four years and has cooperated with them.

Preve was an independent contractor who worked for the Banyon Group of hedge funds, which invested a total of more than $157 million in Rothstein's $1.4 billion investment fraud scheme, according to court records.

pmcmahon@tribune.com, 954-356-4533 or Twitter @SentinelPaula