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Old Con Man Faces Long Prison Term

SAN DIEGO (CN) - A 72-year-old man from Rancho Santa Fe faces up to 25 years in prison after pleading guilty to federal wire fraud and conspiracy. Richard M. Hersch admitted he bilked investors of $25 million by claiming his putative company, All States ATM, ran ATM machines and cashed checks for people in the know at California horseracing tracks.

Hersch claimed he had 160 employees and had been running his business for 8 years, but the tracks "report having no contracts with him or All States ATM to provide financial services of any sort," the U.S. Attorney's Office said after the guilty plea. Hersch promised returns of 2 percent to 6 percent a week, and at least 150 people went for it.

His plea agreement calls for him to pay $9.2 million in restitution. He will be sentenced on Feb. 8, 2010.

Rancho Santa Fe, an unincorporated, gated enclave in the hills of San Diego County, has homes for some of the world's richest people, including Bill Gates and the Sultan of Brunei.

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