A federal jury found an investment adviser from North Carolina guilty of running a complicated scheme involving dozens of investors. The defendant’s purported pyramid plan resulted in his going to trial for allegations consisting of 20 different counts of fraud, as reported by the Raleigh News & Observer.

Law enforcement authorities accused the 45-year-old Wake County resident of talking his investors out of more than $15 million. He built the alleged investment scam on promises of annual returns of 8% or 9% in exchange for purchasing promissory notes. Instead of using the proceeds to generate income for his investors, however, the defendant is blamed for spending the money on himself. Reportedly, he bought luxury items such as firearms and watches, a vacation home in Costa Rica and three horses named Hugo Boss, Princess and Cartagena.

The defendant proclaimed his innocence, but after a three-week trial, a federal jury found him guilty on all 20 counts of fraud. According to his indictment, the charges included offenses such as selling unregistered securities, aggravated identity theft and nine counts of wire fraud. In addition to facing a lengthy prison sentence, the jury decided he should forfeit his assets to return money to the investors. This includes his bank accounts and primary residence known as the “Whispering Hope Farm.”

An indictment consisting of any felony fraud charge is a serious matter. White collar crimes may have severe penalties when the accused is facing numerous charges. A conviction may result in up to 20 years of incarceration depending on the allegations of the amount of money or property taken. The consequences might also lead to a substantial fine, court costs and restitution.