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posted: 4/14/2010 12:01 AM

Equity firm ex-head pleads guilty in NY to fraud

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NEW YORK -- The former president of a Chicago-based private equity firm has pleaded guilty to conspiracy and securities fraud, admitting he misspent millions of dollars in investor money.

Steven Byers, the former head of WexTrust Capital, entered the guilty plea in federal court in Manhattan Tuesday. He agreed that millions of dollars raised from investors since at least 2003 was not used as promised.

Prosecutors say Byers and others took $9.2 million from investors to buy seven commercial properties but never bought them, using the money instead for other purposes. The 47-year-old Byers of Oak Brook, Ill., will be sentenced Sept. 13.

The plea agreement calls for a prison term of between 15 and 18 years in prison. He must forfeit $9.2 million.

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