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updated: 9/24/2013 7:18 AM

Trial set to begin for Rockford Ponzi scheme

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Associated Press

ROCKFORD -- A federal trial is set to begin in Rockford for a one-time CEO who's accused of running a Ponzi scheme that authorities say cost investors $20 million.

The Rockford Register Star reports Anthony D'Agostino's trial is set to begin Monday. He bought Commercial Mortgage & Finance in 1997. He was charged with mail, wire and securities fraud in December.

Prosecutors say the business lost money every year it was operated by D'Agostino. They say he lied about the health of the company in order to get new investors.

But his attorney, Scott Lassar, says the firm went under because of a "run on the bank" during the Great Recession.

The company collapsed in 2008 and had 1,400 investors who authorities say were owed more than $63 million.

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