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Investment Adviser Swiped Millions

ST. LOUIS (CN) - An investment adviser pleaded guilty to defrauding investors of more than $10 million by selling their assets to fund his lifestyle. Don C. Weir, 55, pleaded guilty to one federal felony count of mail fraud. He spent some of the stolen money on baseball cards, prosecutors said.

Weir was an investment adviser and a principal for Longrow Holdings, HFI Securities, Huntleigh Capital Management and Huntleigh Financial Services, court records state. Prosecutors say that in 1999, Weir recommended to a number of clients that they invest in gold coins, paper currency and other precious metals. After the purchases were made, the items were either held by Weir in his basement or by Pacific-Atlantic Coin in Los Angeles. Other coins were stashed in Weir's office at HFI Securities and a few clients held their own items.

Prosecutors say from 2000 through Sept. 11, 2008, Weir sold his clients' stuff without their permission. He hid the sales by mailing bogus statements to clients that claimed he still had the items and that they were appreciating in value, court papers state. Prosecutors say Weir used the proceeds to pay his five children's tuition to Westminster Christian Academy High School and their college tuitions, for a new pool at his house, for missionary trips, Korean War collectibles, baseball cards, charitable contributions and to make a loan to HFI Securities.

Weir made special-item purchases on behalf of 44 clients, which should have resulted in $13.7 million in holdings, prosecutors said. Weir surrendered $3.3 million in coins, currency and other precious metals to the FBI.

Aside from the plea, Weir agreed to a money judgment for $13,715,219 - representing property he gained from the illegal activity. Weir faces up to 20 years in prison and $250,000 in fines at his July 10 sentencing.

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