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U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission

Millionaire Towson businessman pleads guilty in what feds called 'coldhearted and ruthless' Ponzi scheme

Millionaire Towson businessman pleads guilty in what feds called 'coldhearted and ruthless' Ponzi scheme

The Towson millionaire entered court in a gray prison uniform, not his Louis Vuitton. When the hearing concluded, his future promised a federal prison term, not a jaunt on his yacht with the good wine.

Businessman Kevin B. Merrill pleaded guilty Thursday to conspiracy and wire fraud in what prosecutors called one of the biggest Ponzi schemes ever charged in Maryland. The 53-year-old admitted to defrauding investors around the world — some as far away as Singapore — in the five-year, $394 million cheat.

A charmer with a taste for luxury, Merrill acted as frontman in the brazen scheme, said Jon Lenzner, the first assistant U.S. attorney for Maryland.

“This scheme was...

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