Ga. Hedge Fund Fraudsters Plead Guilty

Aug 26 2009 | 12:58pm ET

A Georgia couple accused of ripping off investors in a hedge fund one managed have admitted their crimes as part of a plea deal.

Gary Hutcheson and Saundra McKinney Pyles had pleaded not guilty to the charges in May. Hutcheson pleaded guilty to five counts of mail fraud and five counts of money laundering, Pyles to misprision, or helping cover-up a felony.

“I didn’t develop a scheme,” Hutcheson, who faces as much as 40 years in prison, told the court. “I’ve made some horrible mistakes.”

Prosecutors say the two defrauded more than four dozen investors, among them members of Macon’s elite, in Hutcheson’s Georgia Ionics Fund of $2.11 million. According to the complaint, Hutcheson stole some two-thirds of the money collected for Georgia Ionics, beginning in May 2006. He allegedly lost most of the $780,000 he actually did invest.

Prosecutors did not guarantee Hutcheson a break at sentencing as part of the plea deal. In addition to the decades in prison, he could be fined as much as $750,000 and face $1.6 million in restitution. Pyles’ plea agreement will have her spend six months in prison and another six months under house arrest.

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