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SANTA ANA (AP) — A Southern California investment adviser has pleaded guilty to securities fraud for bilking elderly residents in a $6 million Ponzi scheme.

Federal prosecutors in Orange County say 58-year-old Richard Nickles is facing a 25-year prison term when he’s sentenced Aug. 8.

The owner of Santa Ana’s Innovative Advisory Services pleaded guilty Wednesday to a count of mail fraud and a count of securities fraud, both of them felonies.

Nickles placed advertisements in Orange and Los Angeles newspapers promising safe investments for a minimum $50,000. But prosecutors say he took investor money and paid off prior customers or traded in securities not authorized by the investors.

Investigators estimate victims lost more than $6 million.

(© Copyright 2011 The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)

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